TALIHINA (KFSM)-- Cheri Fulks' father served in the Korean war. The 89-year-old is now being cared for at the Talihina Veteran's Center.
“He is happy to call it home,” she said.
But, the state senate is considering a bill that would move the Talihina Veterans Center as far as 90 miles away.
Shane Faulkner, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs in Oklahoma City said the upkeep of the 100-year-old center is expensive. He said it’s also difficult recruiting doctors. The town has it’s share of water issues as well, which the mayor said is almost fixed.
“We have spent approximately $5 million to upgrade our water facility in Talihina,” Mayor Don Faulkner said.
The mayor said if Senate Bill 544 causes the facility to close, the city could go bankrupt. He said the center is constantly being renovated and has been up to date since 2004.
“Talihina is actually one of the better centers and the facility with the lowest turnover rate in nurses and employees,” he said.
Roy Griffith was the administrator of the Veterans Center for 25 years and said it’s a great place to live and work. He also disagrees with the ODVA’s findings.
“I just don’t know where this is coming from,” he said.
Griffith met with the current administrator in 2016 when a resident died with maggots found in his wound.
“They did what they were supposed to do they reported to the health department whose inspectors reported it to the VA,” he said. “Both groups sent a team in to make sure everything was done properly and it was.”
The ODVA said this incident has nothing to do with the possible shutdown, but if the bill passes, the center could move to Poteau or McAlester.
“If you move it to McAlester or Poteau that would be traveling everyday, which I would not be able to afford to do that,” Fulks said.
The ODVA announced it was considering closing the center in November 2016.
To learn more about a petition by the people who support the keeping the facility from closing, call (918)-567-5358.