Nurses claim they're paying for supplies at Oklahoma hospital

As Prague (Okla.) Community Hospital faces financial challenges, nurses are paying for toilet paper and other supplies, according to The Oklahoman.

Prague Community Hospital is one of several hospitals managed by Kansas City, Mo.-based EmpowerHMS that missed payroll in early December, and the facility is still facing financial troubles. Nurses say the hospital is running short on supplies, and they're asking the community for help.

"The company that's running us is not allowing us to get any supplies," Becky Podest, RN, said at a city council meeting earlier this week, according to The Oklahoman. "Without supplies, I can't take care of my people, so I'm asking for help from anyone."

In an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review, EmpowerHMS CEO Jorge Perez said Ms. Podest's claim that his company has prevented the hospital from buying supplies is a "falsehood."

"We have provided all needed supplies for the well-being of the employees and for the medical services that are available at Prague; most notably, we have never refused the purchase of any deemed 'medically necessary,'" he said.

In addition to being low on supplies, nurses said some patients are being diverted to other hospitals due to broken equipment. For example, nurses said Prague Community Hospital does not have a working CT scanner, according to The Oklahoman.

Mr. Perez said the CT scanner "was recently down for a couple of days" for scheduled maintenance, but it is now fully operational.

Earlier this month, Shelly Dyer confirmed to News 9, an Oklahoma City TV station, that she had resigned as CEO of Prague Community Hospital Dec. 13 due to stress. On Dec. 26, Mr. Perez said she is once again serving as CEO.

"Very briefly she felt as though reverting to her previous position as business manager would better aid our efforts, allowing someone else to respond to the circus atmosphere the press had created," he said. "As things have dissipated, she has chosen to continue as CEO."

He said Prague Community Hospital is facing the same financial challenges as many other rural hospitals across the nation.

"For the record, every bit of revenue generated by the hospital has gone back into the facility and I have personally invested more money into the facility when there were shortfalls," Mr. Perez said in the emailed statement. "At the very best, this would have been the case for any other entity who took it upon themselves to rescue Prague. I knew quite well that turning around the hospital would be a long-term commitment, and I remain vigilante to that objective."

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Editor's note: This article was updated Dec. 26 to include Mr. Perez's statement. 

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