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Sales Tax Proposed For Blackwell Regional Hospital

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A sales tax is being proposed for the Blackwell Regional Hospital. The proposed tax is NOT a new tax.

The vote would be to extend the existing sales tax to expand and renovate the hospital at the current location in Blackwell at 13th & Ferguson. Should the tax not pass, the future of Blackwell Regional Hospital is uncertain. The project would entail remodeling the existing emergency room and the three-story portion which is approximately 12,000 square feet. The new add-on would give 7,000 more feet to make the new square feet 19,000. The total cost estimate for the project is set at $12,680,160 which includes construction cost, furniture, equipment, architect/engineer fees and demo existing facility. The new/renovated facility would include the ER, physician clinic and impatient & outpatient services. The new facility would leave to a positive bottom line thru gains in operational efficiency and reduced cost.

Here’s an interesting fact. Did you know that there are 35 hospitals in Oklahoma that receive sales tax support from the local community? One of those is Blackwell Regional Hospital. To show how much BRH affects the Blackwell community, the hospital employs 97 people with an annual payroll over $3 million. These employees create 57 additional jobs. This also creates $1.5 million in income for the local economy as the employees and the facility interact with the community. Another important factor is that having a local hospital serves as an attraction for those wanting to set up new businesses locally.

Recruiting physicians to the community will be harder if there is no hospital. BRH has provided more than $280K in Charity Care (Financial Assistance) in 2018. Another fact to show how much the Blackwell Regional Hospital impacts the community is that Blackwell ambulance service takes on average over 1,000 patients a year to BRH. Without the hospital, these patients would have to be taken to Ponca City which increases the time before physician care can be provided. Urgent care cannot provide the same level of care that the emergency room can provide. In 2018, BRH has provided care to over 450 patients in the hospital, over 6,000 in the emergency room, performed 9,400 radiology test and over 45,000 lab tests.

Most of the existing facility has been around since 1953. To make all the necessary improvements needed for the future, the cost would be an estimated $18 million. The mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems need to be replaced. The facility needs to make ADA improvements. The building envelope, which includes windows, roof and brick joint sealing, needs to be replaced. The existing elevator also needs replaced.

If the project moves, Stillwater Medical would take over operational responsibility (will need SMCA board approval) for BRH. At that point, all BRH staff would become Stillwater Medical employees. Stillwater Medical would receive the remaining funds (approximately $2 million) to continue operations while new facility is built. Stillwater Medical would pay a reasonable lease rate for the facility to the city of Blackwell. Stillwater Medical would not receive any additional tax support.