El Reno offers $2 million to retain emergency room
El Reno is determined to keep at least an emergency room when its current hospital operator pulls out, and it’s willing to offer $2 million and 14 acres to the right group.
Mercy Health announced in November that it would stop operating the El Reno hospital in March, and would open a new facility for outpatient services. The city of El Reno owns the hospital building, which dates to the 1950s, but is hoping to find a medical group interested in building a new facility, Mayor Matt White said at a news conference Thursday.
“We’re a growing market, so we need to get out of the old facility,” he said.
The city put out a request for proposals for a facility and one for ambulance services. The city council and El Reno Hospital Authority will take a vote Jan. 8 on any proposals it receives.
White said six groups have shown interest so far, though he declined to name them. The council could approve up to $2 million for construction or operations costs, and the city owns a parcel of land along Interstate 40 near SW 27th that it could give to the right partner, he said.
Oklahoma City facilities likely will be some of the leading candidates, because hospitals are allowed to operate a freestanding emergency room under their own license if the distance between the emergency room and the main facility is less than 35 miles. Two physician groups also have shown interest, White said.
The most important priorities are continued ambulance service and an emergency room, though White said the city would also like to see other services offered. At least one group has discussed opening a “microhospital,” which would include an emergency room, outpatient services and a handful of beds when a patient needs to stay for observation, he said. The existing hospital is licensed for 48 beds, but Mercy reported it typically had only 12 overnight patients in recent months.
“Us being located so close to Oklahoma City, I don’t think we need that many beds,” White said. “We have to have an ambulance service and we have to have an emergency room.”