Plan in the works to build critical access hospital in Tillman County

Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 10:12 PM CDT
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TILLMAN CO., Okla. (KSWO) - There’s a big push to build a new critical access hospital in Tillman County.

It’s part of the Oklahoma Rural Hospital Rebuild plan, which has been approved in the House and Senate.

Since Memorial Hospital in Frederick closed its doors back in 2016, many people in the area have lived more than 30 miles from the closest operational hospital.

It’s a project that’s expected to cost between $13 and 15 million. Six different revenue streams, including funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and the state, will pay for the critical access hospital.

Rep. Trey Caldwell has led the charge to give Tillman County a hospital again.

“What we really need to focus on for these rural communities - not just in Frederick but all over rural Oklahoma - is having these stability stations where in the ER, we can stabilize you and if we have a bigger problem, we can ship you to either Lawton or to an OU Med or trauma one type hospital,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell said the state’s lost 12 hospitals in 20 years, which has also put a strain on first responders.

“We overwork them and underpay them and then expect them to be a doctor while they’re on a call,” Caldwell said. That’s one thing, having these identified areas throughout rural Oklahoma to be able to go and say ‘Hey, we’re going to have this community access point here.’”

Former House Speaker Loyd Benson appeared before a joint committee to testify about rural healthcare issues Tillman County is facing.

“We documented about 10 cases where if we’d had an emergency room and had emergency room doctors, we possibly could have saved those people that resulted in heart attack or stroke,” Benson said.

Benson said he knows people who moved away from Frederick because there was no access to a hospital.

He said he hopes this will attract people to the area.

“Particularly people that are retired that moved areas so that they can have those kind of services that are present to them, so this is going to be something that will attract retirees and people who want to live in small towns as a result of having a hospital,” Benson said.

Caldwell said the Comanche County Hospital Authority will manage the facility. They’re already working on a feasibility study to make sure the hospital can qualify for critical access.

The bill is still waiting on Governor Stitt’s signature. As long as that happens, Caldwell said he hopes to break ground on the project six months from now.

They expect the hospital to be about three miles east of Frederick.