Close to Closure

Close to Closure

It may not look like it from the outside, but Bowie Memorial Hospital is struggling.

Many portions of the hospital, including the assisted living facility, have been sold in recent years. The latest issues with the building were caused by recent heavy rains.

"We have an 25 year old roof that needs replacing. And we don't have the funds to replace the roof, Bowie Memorial Hospital CEO Lynn Heller said.

On top of that, 20 percent of the rooms in Bowie Memorial are flooded out and can't be used, a big inconvenience to the 1100 people the hospital serves each month.

If the hospital closes, officials say, the negative impact would be much more far reaching than just with the patients. 150 employees would lose their jobs, with up to five hundred Bowie employees facing the ax over 18 months. Also, without the hospital, it is unclear if the city would keep it's ambulance service. Bowie may additionally end up having to switch to a volunteer fire department.

"People are talking to other communities that have lost their hospitals, and they've been saying, 'don't do it!'" Heller said.

According to Heller, If doors close at Bowie Memorial for the final time, it will cause a domino effect.

"As far as Bowie residents go, the value of their homes is going to go down, there insurance on their homes is probably going to go up."

The proposed property tax to save the hospital, 18.5 cents per $100 value, has sparked fierce debate, with some opponents referring to it as a bailout.

But, one resident who was visiting her grandmother today posed an important question.

"If your son is at a football game and your son gets knocked unconscious, do you want to wait 30 minutes for the ambulance to come form Decatur, or do you want to wait 5 minutes to come from across town?"

It's a question officials are looking to answer come the November election. They will submit a petition to create a hospital district to the county judge by next Monday.

For now, Heller says making the hospital a medical taxing district is the hospital's last chance.

Dave Caulfield, Newschannel 6