Emotions and opinions are fine, but it takes math to operate a hospital

Math deals with logic. But it’s no match for emotion.

On Tuesday night El Reno City Councilman Kent Myers said he believes the city-owned hospital will be closed. Who knows, Myers might be right.

In no surprise, Myers, Council member David DeLana and Vice Mayor Jim Archer are sided against Mayor Matt White in a struggle over El Reno’s health care. White has urged the city to build a $3.5 million health-care clinic and lease it to Mercy Health, the entity that pays the city $500,000 per year to operate the city-owned hospital.

So far, that plan hasn’t gotten anywhere. Mercy says it needs the clinic to help attract more doctors to town.

Councilman B.D. Stevenson would side with White, but a pair can’t beat three of a kind, so Stevenson does what those in the minority do – listen.  That’s what Myers and Archer basically did until DeLana beat Dr. Kent Carder in a close election a few months ago.

The average number of patients in the hospital on a daily basis usually is well south of double digits. It’s tough to operate a hospital in the 21st century with only a few patients, even if the name Mercy is on the sign outside.

Myers said on Tuesday that El Reno doctors who no longer will admit patients to the city-owned hospital accounted for “65 percent” of the patient census when they would admit patients. That would have been about three years ago, just before Mercy began operating what was then Parkview Hospital. When Mercy took over, some local doctors got mad and turned away from admitting patients to the hospital. Instead, they now send their patients to Integris Hospital in Yukon.

But here’s the rub, Parkview Hospital, even with 65 percent more patients than today, was still losing big money. Million-dollar losses were not uncommon.

White, Stevenson and Carder were instrumental in pushing the former  administrator at Parkview out and taking control of the hospital away from the appointed authority. DeLana served for years on that authority and fought tooth and nail to keep control of the hospital.

But many in town could see the writing on the wall. Parkview was losing money. Every plan to pull the hospital out of the red focused on some sort of tax increase.

It wasn’t going to happen. That’s just my opinion.

Who knows, I have been wrong before. Maybe El Reno taxpayers would have pitched in to keep the status quo firmly in place. But I doubt it, otherwise when White and the others started pushing for change, they would have been met with overwhelming resistance. Oh, they met with resistance, but in no way was it overwhelming, the way it would have been if the majority in town had opposed what they were doing.

Parkview Hospital, in my opinion, was a perfect example of government-run health care. Waste with a capital W.

Myers may be right, El Reno’s hospital may close. But it won’t be because of Mercy and it won’t be because of Matt White.

No, simply put, it will be human emotion that closes your local hospital.   If that were to happen, it might take a great deal of math to get it reopened, math as in the kind that adds up to subtracting your money.


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