POTEAU (KFSM) – Voters in LeFlore County are headed to the polls Tuesday (Aug. 26) to decide the future of the Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center in Poteau.
This, after administrators shut the surgical and obstetrical departments down in February, after failing a state inspection.
“We closed the surgery department because we no longer met state standards when it came to infection prevention,” explained Nancy Frier, who serves as the Chief Financial Officer at the hospital.
Once the hospital stopped performing surgeries, Administrator Bob Carter said the Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center took a big hit financially.
“Surgery is one of the services that we provide to make a profit on,” Bob Carter said. “So it cut into our bottom line very deeply when we couldn’t continue to perform surgeries.”
Hospital officials said, to continue, they need to make the needed renovations and upgrades.
“We have an assessment of $16 million dollars in required facility renovations here,” explained Chief Executive Officer Mike Carter.
After that, the hospital will move forward addressing other issues, Mike Carter said.
If the hospital does not get the money it needs, Karen Wages with the Chamber of Commerce says it will be detrimental to the growth of Poteau.
“With our economic development, we need the jobs,” Wages said. “The growth of this community is based on the growth of this hospital.”
If voters approved the half-cent sales tax, administrators say it would provide long-term funding for the facility which would pay for the surgery departments that are needed.
There are 37 polling sites across LeFlore County. They’re all open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.