Purcell hospital’s fate rests on vote

PURCELL, Okla. - Fredda Perry was busy tidying up on Monday after the lunch hour at the Purcell Senior Citizen Center. The fate of their local hospital is on her mind.

“Our seniors have to be able to go to the doctor. And, if we lose our hospital, we lose our doctors,” she said.

Perry reminded all of those who went for the lunch to get out and vote on Tuesday.

“It’s highly important. If we lose our hospital, then we lose our nursing homes, we lose our clinic, we lose a lot of jobs,” she said.

And, Perry herself relies on the local care.

“I am a heart patient and a cancer survivor,” she said. “My primary doctor is here, so I can’t lose him.”

A penny sales tax was voted in back in 2016 to save Purcell Municipal Hospital.

Board members said they saw the writing on the wall with other small communities losing their rural hospitals. They said the little penny has saved theirs but it has to continue.

It’s scheduled to end in 2019. If voters approve the extension, it would continue another 20 years.

“So, we did find a way to keep it going and it is critical that our town has this ability because we have an elderly population in Purcell and surrounding areas,” said hospital board member Todd Clouse.

“That sales tax extension has kept us alive, and we believe it’s very important for the future of the hospital for us to continue this,” said board member Justin Blankenship.

Not all residents, though, like the 10 percent sales tax rate they pay in town.

“It’s out of this world high,” said Desiree Allen.

Allen said she already drives to Oklahoma City for her health care because of previous experiences at the hospital in Purcell.

“I mean I’ve never really gotten good care there so - and I’ve been turned away a lot, even with broken bones,” Allen said.

City and hospital leaders said there has been widespread support in town for keeping the penny tax and keeping the hospital in town.

Residents will cast their vote on the matter on Tuesday.