MIDWEST CITY — With some performance improvement already in evidence at Midwest Regional Medical Center, Mayor Jack Fry said Wednesday that voter approval of a request for hospital trustees to access the hospital trust fund will help their quest to achieve quality health care at the city-owned hospital.
Voters Tuesday approved a proposal allowing the trustees access to up to $50 million in the trust fund if the lease with Health Management Associates is terminated. The measure passed 1,259 (80.3 percent) to 308 (19.7 percent), according to the Oklahoma County Election Board.
Four other measures, including a pay increase for the mayor and council members beginning with their next terms, also were approved.
Fry said quality patient care at the hospital has been an issue since before he took office three years ago. Fry also serves as chairman of the hospital trust.
The hospital was opened in 1962 and has grown in size. Damon Brown, chief executive officer of Midwest Regional Medical Center, said the hospital has about 300 physicians and 1,200 health care associates.
“What we expected was to have quality health care in our community and not have to travel long distances to get it,” Fry said, noting that the hospital serves several other communities in eastern Oklahoma County.
HMA, the lease holder, is being acquired by a larger hospital management company, Community Health Systems, in a $7.6 billion deal. Approval of the purchase by the HMA board will be considered in December, Fry said, and the sale is to be finalized in March.
“The best-case scenario is performance will improve and we won't have to spend one cent,” Fry said. “But in the meantime, HMA is still the lease holder. We want to thank our citizens for giving us a vital tool toward our goal of ensuring that this community has access to high-quality medical care at their hospital.”
City Attorney Katherine Bolles said the trust money would be used for items such as attorney fees or to buy back the remainder of the lease.
“There is no time limit on use of the funds, but the use is limited in the event the lease is terminated,” Bolles said.
“Midwest Regional Medical Center respects the decision of the voters,” Brown said in a statement. “We are dedicated to advancing our mission of providing high-quality care for the community and to continually enhancing that care.”
Also approved by voters Tuesday were charter changes bringing the city's election procedures into compliance with state law and increasing the stipend paid to the mayor and city council members. The increases will take effect after the mayor and council members are re-elected or succeeded in office.
Bolles said the amendment setting election dates will be put to immediate use. The city council will consider at its next meeting setting 2014 election dates for mayor and council seats in wards 1, 3 and 5.
Fry thanked voters for approving the pay increases for mayor and council. He said the hikes will help offset costs they incur in carrying out their duties. The stipends had not been increased in 14 years, he said.