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CLINTON, Okla. (KFOR) – Clinton Regional Hospital has been closed for over three months, forcing residents to drive at least 15 minutes to the nearest healthcare facility.

After last week’s election, the ball to reopening the hospital is on the move.

KFOR first spoke with The City of Clinton City Manager, Robert Johnston, on February 3.

Johnston said neither the hospital or the facility’s manager, Alliance Health, was “financially distressed.”

Instead, Johnston stated Alliance Health chose to not renew their contract with the city.

Johnston also said Alliance Health was supposed to transfer the State Health Department license back to the city, but never did.

“We could not come to an understanding, a mutually beneficial understanding,” added Johnston. “The [health department] license which had originally belonged to the city had been transferred to other operators. [It] was not transferred back to the city to operate the hospital as we had planned for.”

It then put residents and the city in a bind.

Kim Huber said her mom has cancer and would receive treatment at Clinton Regional.

Since the closing of Clinton Regional, Huber said her mom is now having to travel to Weatherford for treatment.

“That’s been a challenge,” added Huber. “My mom worked at the hospital for 40 years and she was so upset. It just so sad because she poured her life into this and for it to totally close was heartbreaking. And so it’s very sad. It affected a lot of my friends who were employees there. I’ve had family members and friends that have needed to come to the hospital, to the emergency room, and we’re having to go to other places.”

Samantha Selman also used to work at Clinton Regional for four years before it shut down.

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“It was unsure times, but a lot of us just felt like it would kind of work itself out. A lot of us didn’t believe it could close. We’ve been open here at least for 20 years, as long as I’ve been alive. So the idea of quitting, not having a hospital, we couldn’t fathom it,” said Selman.

Once the hospital was officially closed, Selman said her family had to make lifestyle changes to adjust for the lack of money coming in.

Johnston said fortunately, with the help of voters, the city is now able to get the ball rolling on reopening the hospital and bringing back former employees.

The city rolled out a proposition March 7 for voters that detailed $11.6M going towards the reopening of Clinton Regional.

The proposition passed with 1,221 votes for it. Only 81 people voted against it.

The first step in reopening the hospital was opening an urgent care facility on the south side of the hospital.

That urgent care facility opened Monday morning and will be open moving forward seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“It’s been a busy place already this morning,” said Johnston.

Johnston said they’ve also been in communication with an architect who has inspected the facility a few times this year.

“There’s a whole lot of carpet going to come up, which doesn’t meet standards anymore. And we still know that the ICU rooms will need to be enlarged,” explained Johnston.

The City of Clinton still doesn’t have a State Health Department license, but Johnston said having the architect out there will allow them to submit drawings, have the department review that and go from there.

Johnston is still unsure of when the hospital will be fully functional again, but plans to reopen it in phases as soon as each part is cleared for opening.

Johnston believes the ICU will be amongst the last though.

Selman said as soon as the hospital is back up and running, she plans to return for work. Both Selman and Huber are excited to see the progress being made with the hospital.

“It’s like a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s coming. It’s going in a good direction,” said Huber.