Tate County residents shocked by sudden closure of county’s only emergency room

SENATOBIA, Miss. – Many in Senatobia, Mississippi say they were blindsided by a last-minute decision to close the emergency room at North Oak Regional Medical Center Thursday morning, leaving Tate County residents with no emergency room for miles.

“I think it’s a really crying shame, because there’s so many people around here that need somewhere to go that’s quick,” said Sally Ketchum.

Before it closed at 7 a.m., North Oak’s emergency room was the only emergency room in Tate County.

The closest emergency room is now either 24 miles away in Batesville or 27 miles away in Southaven.

“I’m kind of concerned about it, especially with all the elderly and the children around here, so I think we need an emergency room,” said Kelly Weeks.

Administrators at North Oak agree.

“This community needs and deserves a full-service hospital, period,” said North Oak CEO Philip Hanna.

He estimates the emergency room was seeing anywhere from 500 to 600 patients per month, but said that earlier this year, the federal Medicare program began reducing the amount of money it was reimbursing the hospital for their care.

Hanna said the hospital was losing about $100,000 every month.

After scrapping their original plans to close the emergency room in March, Hanna said the hospital’s owners finally made the difficult decision to close it Wednesday night.

“It’s hard for anyone to understand or accept the situation, starting with me,” Hanna said.

North Oak isn’t ruling out the possibility of reopening the emergency room at a later date, but a lot will have to change before that can happen.

The rest of the hospital remains open.