The city of Horton’s only hospital closed for good on Tuesday. Now former employees and community members are worried about what’s next.
The closing comes after weeks of speculation and problems at the hospital.
Linda Jerome has worked at the hospital since 1966. She said Tuesday was painful day for her and her coworkers.
“It’s just like a funeral,” Jerome said, “We said we’re just hanging around this afternoon, just like a wake or something.”
At five on Tuesday the hospital posted closed signs on all of the doors, making it official. For many it didn’t come as a surprise.
Jerome told KSNT News they hadn’t received their paycheck in six weeks. According to Mayor Bryan Stirton the hospital was struggling to pay their utility bills.
Despite the problems and for the sake of the community, Stirton hoped something could be done to save the hospital.
“It’s going to hurt the community all around. The businesses are going to be impacted,” Stirton said.
Connie Mayfield will feel the effects as a patient of the hospital and as a local business owner.
“Some of the doctors you call, they are already full. They can’t take you, so you know, I have heart trouble and diabetes, and I really need a doctor,” Mayfield said.
Now that several people are without jobs, Stirton is worried it may force them to relocate.
“These families, these employees, I commend them dearly for staying as long as they have without pay,” said Stirton. “If they’re forced to move out of town to find other jobs, it’s going to impact our school district as well.”
While it may not be the ending they wanted, Jerome said she wants everyone to know that the staff did all they could to continue providing quality care to those in the community.
Stirton said the biggest priority for them going forward is maintaining ambulance and emergency services and that a unit from Hiawatha will be stationed in Horton for the time being.
An employee who works for the pharmacy Kex RX inside the hospital said they aren’t affiliated with the hospital, and that despite the closure the pharmacy will remain open.