CLINTON, Okla. (KFOR) – Clinton Regional Hospital officially closed its doors at the start of the New Year which now forces residents having to drive at least 20 minutes to the next closest healthcare facility.
Clinton Regional served a community of just over 8,600 people with a total of 56 patient beds.
The City of Clinton City Manager, Robert Johnston told KFOR Clinton Regional was not “financially distressed.”
Johnston said the hospital’s facility manager, Alliance Health, backed out in 2022 which left the city scrambling on their next move.
“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.”
Johnston said there’s currently pending litigation between the city and Alliance Health, so he was unable to continue commenting on what’s going on between the two.
Without a medical facility in Clinton, it now forces residents to travel elsewhere for their medical needs.
“A few months back, we had a moderate trauma/fall at our farm west of Clinton. [We] had to go to the ER for cleaning of wound and sutures. The [doctor] was very skilled and the scar looks pretty good considering the large rip in tissue. If something like this happens, I would probably have to drive to [Weatherford]. The injured person was bleeding pretty badly and adding 20 or more minutes before proper care could be a real problem,” said Carla Thompson.
Thompson also told KFOR she has heart troubles, so being far from medical care is a concern for her.
The two closest medical facilities are Weatherford Regional Hospital and Cordell Memorial Hospital.
From city lines, they’re between 15-20 minutes, but once you’re further into the city, the extra drive time starts racking up.
Former Oklahoma State Medical Association President, Dr. George Monks said rural communities are typically filled with older people who have more serious health conditions, so not having a medical facility in Clinton could be detrimental.
“When you’re having a life threatening condition, it’s important that you’re close by. In fact, these studies show that for about every five miles or every 5 minutes it takes to get to the hospital, that may lower your chance of survival by about 1%,” explained Dr. Monks.
Johnston said the city plans to reopen the south end of Clinton Regional as an urgent care by the end of February.
That urgent care will be able to treat patients with “relatively minor” health issues.
If you’re in need of higher level care though, the urgent care will not be able to help and you’ll be transferred to a nearby hospital, according to Johnston.
In the meantime, Johnston said the city has applied for a new Health Department license.
They’ve also set aside $11m to help purchase some medical equipment, make minor improvements, and just to overall get the hospital back up and running.
“We’re going to get through whatever we need to get through to get get this thing reopened,” he said.
The city is only able to spend that money though if residents approve it, said Johnston.
Johnston added people will be able to vote on it come March 7.
He’s not sure when the hospital will reopen, but he’s hopeful it’ll be this year.
Johnston also said they’re fortunate enough to have most of Clinton Regional’s former physicians interested in coming back once the hospital reopens.
News 4 reached out to Alliance Health for comment, but didn’t hear back.
News 4 also reached out to the hospital’s new facility manager, Carrus Health for comment, but didn’t hear back from them either.
Clinton Regional’s closure marks the ninth rural hospital to shut down since 2016.
The other hospitals who have closed in that time:
- Epic Medical Center, Eufaula – 2016
- Memorial Hospital, Frederick – 2016
- Lane Frost Rehabilitation Hospital, Hugo – 2016
- Sayre Memorial Hospital – 2016 (briefly reopened and closed again 2018)
- Latimer County General Hosp, Wilburton – 2018
- Mercy Hospital El Reno – 2019
- INTEGRIS Bass Pavilion, Enid – 2020
- Bristow Medical Center – 2021