MHTC moves up date for OB closure to Oct. 31

April Coble
Staff Writer

In a recent update from the Memorial Hospital of Texas County page on Facebook, patients learned the hospital will now close labor and delivery on Oct. 31 at 7 p.m.

Originally, hospital administrators made the announcement to staff and directly to the Guymon Daily Herald that the hospital had planned to close the obstetrics department on Nov. 9 at 5 p.m. The move was made after administrators say they looked back on a year of data from hospital operations and learned the department was causing a loss of roughly $1 million.

“We’ve spent a year trying to repair. A year trying to correct. A year collecting data to see what is true, what is not,” CEO Doug Swim said. “The obvious view is we have to take it back to the bare bones. Meaning we want to keep the primary services required to take care of the community.”

Emergency room services, inpatient, surgery, lab, radiology and other primary services provided at nearly all critical access hospitals are remaining in operation. Swim stated closing labor and delivery was the last thing administration wanted to do.

“The unfortunate history has been taking the vast majority of all OB patients out of this community. Over the last year, with marketing, with everything else we’ve tried to do… we still saw a decrease over the year in the utilization of OB,” Swim said. “Because of the decrease in utilization, because of the horrible reimbursement all hospitals deal with.”

Critical access hospitals in rural communities typically are unable to support the losses sustained by an OB department. In recent years and across multiple administrations, volume reports have shown the department as a low-volume, high cost area causing a large financial burden for MHTC.

Patients and hospital staff were notified immediately of the change before the news went public.

The Guymon Daily Herald has reached out to administration to learn about why the decision to move the date up was made, but has not yet received a response.