'From almost no patients to a full hospital': How this physician investor revitalized a rural Oklahoma hospital

The healthcare investment firm Rural Wellness Fairfax has invested $500,000 in facility and technology upgrades at Fairfax (Okla.) Community Hospital since buying the rural hospital for $2.1 million in March 2020.

Elizabeth Pusey, MD, owner of Rural Wellness Fairfax, also recently won a legal battle to recover $2.4 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds for the hospital. HHS sent the funds to the hospital's bankruptcy trustee even though Dr. Pusey's firm had owned and operated Fairfax Community Hospital for the majority of the time the funds were designated for. The hospital, previously owned by affiliates of EmpowerHMS, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2019.

The CARES Act funding and Rural Wellness Fairfax's capital investments will support more upgrades at the hospital, including replacing an antiquated heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, adding six patient rooms and upgrading such equipment as ventilators for long-term care patients. 

Last spring, the hospital partnered with the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa to offer 24/7 telehealth services. Fairfax Community Hospital and First Physicians Capital Group, the hospital's management group, also donated more than $60,000 to local schools to buy laptops, computers and personal protective equipment during the pandemic.

"I've worked at the hospital for over 40 years, and we didn't have any equipment and resources when the hospital was in bankruptcy," James Graham, DO, Fairfax Community Hospital's medical director, said in a news release shared with Becker's. "Under Dr. Pusey's leadership, we went from almost no patients to a full hospital. She has been a big morale builder for the hospital employees and a great benefit to the community of Fairfax."

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