The future SSM Health St. Anthony Healthplex in El Reno is shown in this rendering. Officials broke ground for it Tuesday. [IMAGE PROVIDED]
The future SSM Health St. Anthony Healthplex in El Reno DALE DENWALT Oklahoma. com

Construction has begun on a new hospital and emergency department in El Reno.

Officials with the city and SSM Health St. Anthony broke ground Tuesday on the facility, which will be at the northeast corner of State Highway 81 and Interstate 40.

Along with an eight-room emergency wing, the Healthplex will have four observation beds, offices for four physicians and a clinic for primary and urgent care. New construction includes living quarters and ambulance bays for the hospital’s new emergency medical services provider, Pafford Medical Services.

Outpatient services will include a laboratory and diagnostic imaging.

“It really is kind of the right size for us. It helps us bring healthcare to rural Oklahoma,” El Reno Mayor Matt White said. “What we need more than anything is doctors.”

The city expects the Healthplex to open in mid-2021. Construction costs will top $6.5 million and will be paid for with existing cash already held by the city, White said. El Reno will own the main building with the emergency room, and SSM Health will own a separate building at the site that will house the doctors’ offices.

El Reno lost its hospital April 30 when Mercy decided to close its inpatient service. Since Mercy closed, SSM Health has operated the city’s emergency room.

Mercy officials said it would have cost too much to remodel the existing hospital, and that it had lost an estimated $2.9 million on operations there in 2017. At the time, about 12 patients per month used that hospital’s inpatient facilities, while another 50 traveled from El Reno to hospitals in Oklahoma City.

The SSM Health St. Anthony Healthplex will not have inpatient service.

Hospitals in rural communities are key economic engines and top employers, Oklahoma Hospital Association President Patti Davis said.

“When a hospital closes, it creates a domino effect of lost health care services as physicians leave the community and clinics and pharmacies close. New models of care that keep emergency and outpatient care in these communities will be more and more vital as a way to sustain rural facilities that have withstood multiple reimbursement cuts over the past decade,” Davis said.

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