Critical Condition

Investigating the Business of Oklahoma's Rural Hospitals

Rural communities desperate to save their hospitals are turning to for-profit companies for help, but many fail to deliver on lofty promises and leave them with more debt.

She Needed Lifesaving Medication, but the Only Hospital in Town Did Not Have It

Mabel Garcia went to the only emergency room in Texas County, Oklahoma, which didn’t have a drug for heart attacks and strokes. She was airlifted to a larger hospital that gave her the drug she needed, but it was too late. She suffered brain damage.

These Hospitals Pinned Their Hopes on Private Management Companies. Now They’re Deeper in Debt.

At least 13 hospitals in Oklahoma have closed or experienced added financial distress under the management of private companies. Some companies charged hefty management fees, promising to infuse millions of dollars that never materialized.

The Only Hospital in Town Was Failing. They Promised to Help but Only Made It Worse.

Rural Oklahoma communities are desperate to protect their vulnerable hospitals and hand the reins to management companies that say they’re turnaround experts. Instead some companies failed the hospitals, bled them dry and expedited their demise.

This Hospital Has Only 8 Nurses. They Are Also the Janitors.

Eight nurses are the overwhelming majority of employees who remain at Haskell County Community Hospital in Oklahoma. The future of the 25-bed hospital, which has been whittled down to operating only an emergency room since 2019, is increasingly grim.

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