What IS the status of MHTC ER? A review of events of the week

Staff Writer

This week brought questions as to the status of Memorial Hospital of Texas Co. emergency room. The following is a timeline of the events of the week. We will continue to update as more information becomes available.

Questions arise following ER diversion on Monday
By April Coble

On Monday evening, the Guymon Daily Herald was contacted with questions pertaining to the status of the emergency room at Memorial Hospital of Texas County. It was learned that only on Monday, the emergency room was advising ambulances to divert trauma cases to other facilities.
Contact was made with COO Mike Carter, who stated the emergency room was not closed down. No further details were immediately given on the situation, other than the ER would remain open.
An anonymous source later sent a letter with a letterhead from Emergency Staffing Solutions dated Sept. 21, in which the company was demanding payment by 3 p.m. Central Standard Time, or they would "be forced to pull coverage immediately".
CEO Doug Swim stated the hospital administration had not received the letter.
The hospital also faces a suit that has been filed with the Texas County Courthouse from Onestaff Medical, LLC. The affidavit states the hospital has failed to pay as agreed for services provided for the period of May through August 2017. The contract would have taken place while the hospital was in a contract with Little River Healthcare and its subsidiary, Timberlands Healthcare. That contract was terminated following news that Little River had closed down a hospital in Texas, and was in the process of filing for bankruptcy. The contract included with the court filing was signed by former CEO Jimmy Stuart.
The Guymon Daily Herald continues to seek further information on the payment and contract disputes from hospital officials and will report as more becomes available.

Further details on MHTC ER woes come forth
By April Coble

Confusion reigned on Monday afternoon following information that Guymon Emergency Medical Services was notified by the Memorial Hospital of Texas County emergency room nursing staff that no emergency room physician was available on Sept. 24 as of 3 p.m.
A letter was forwarded from Dr. Jeffrey Lim, who serves as the medical director for Guymon Emergency Medical Services. Guymon EMS has since been diverting patients to surrounding area hospitals based on the clinical status of the patients. Dr. Lim sought further information from hospital administration in regards to the hospital's status.
In the email, Dr. Lim stated: "I would also like to reiterate that Guymon EMS has to be informed in a timely manner when essential ancillary services such as but not limited to arterial blood gases, cardiac injury profiles, protime/international normalized ratios, radiologic studies are unavailable. The Guymon EMS should also be informed when thrombolytics for use in acute strokes and snake antivenom is unavailable."
Dr. Lim stated on Tuesday morning that the incident had been reported to the Oklahoma State Department of Health for investigation, and that Guymon EMS would continue to divert patients to other area hospitals until he could receive a written guarantee the emergency room can provide minimum standards of medical care to Texas County residents. The Oklahoma State Department of Health was unable to comment on the matter.
An anonymous source purportedly intercepted a letter appearing to be from Emergency Staffing Solutions in which payment had been demanded, or the agency would terminate coverage. The letter demanded an immediate payment There was no confirmation that the letter had been delivered to or received by MHTC administrators.
On Monday afternoon, CEO Doug Swim stated that neither he nor COO Mike Carter had received or seen the letter in question. Swim released only a brief statement at the end of Monday, stating the following:
"Memorial Hospital of Texas County is open and will remain open. The emergency room is open and will remain open. Thank you so much for your support."
The Guymon Daily Herald continues to seek further comment from hospital administration.
A message was left with Emergency Staffing Solutions for comment, but the call was not returned before deadline.

MHTC administration states hospital is operational, solvent
By April Coble

Memorial Hospital of Texas County administration has faced a week of questions and meetings following claims the emergency room was closed down and diverting ambulances to other area hospitals.
A demand for a written guarantee the emergency room can provide minimum standards of medical care to residents was emailed directly to hospital administrators from Dr. Jeffrey Lim. Dr. Lim stated in the email that ambulances would continue to divert until the guarantee was delivered.
An anonymous source intercepted a letter from Emergency Staffing Solutions (ESS), the company that had provided emergency room physicians, in which a demand for payment appeared to be sent to COO Mike Carter. That demand came with a Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. deadline, or the company would pull coverage.
Administration stated the diversion was to give new covering physicians an orientation period and that the emergency room remained open.
The letter from ESS was signed by Shonda Rupe, who interviewed with the Oklahoman. Rupe did not return a call with request for comment from the Guymon Daily Herald. In the interview, Rupe claimed the hospital missed three payments. The letter stated if ESS did not receive a $25,000 payment, coverage would be pulled.
Rupe also told The Oklahoman that Swim and Carter told her the hospital would likely file for bankruptcy and had "no hope" of paying its debts.
"They really just left us no choice," Rupe told The Oklahoman.
Swim and Carter both denied any discussion on bankruptcy, with Carter stating bankruptcy is not even a consideration, and the hospital remains solvent.
"We are providing everything we can for medical care for the community," Swim said.
While Guymon EMS continues to divert ambulances, Swim stated there is no reason to do so, as the hospital is staffed and supplied to provide medical care to Texas County.
On Monday afternoon, Swim followed up talk about the emergency room with the following statement:
"Memorial Hospital of Texas County is open and will remain open. The emergency room is open and will remain open."
One reader, Becky Edenborough Chase, verified on Monday evening that the emergency room was indeed open, after taking her mother there following a falling injury.
"We had excellent car at the open ER and everyone who took care of her before, during and after surgery," Chase wrote.
Chase added not having a local emergency room would be a big inconvenience, and credited MHTC for her parents both being here today, noting there may not be enough time for a trip to another area hospital in an emergency.
Board of Trustees President Harold Tyson also met with administrators on Wednesday morning to address questions pertaining to operations and the status of the hospital. Tyson stated he and administration want to reassure the community that the hospital is strong and running good.