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OSU Medical Center in Tulsa warns it could close without fund infusion

by Silas Allen Published: April 27, 2013

— Oklahoma State University officials are warning that a lack of funding could force OSU Medical Center to shut down, crippling efforts to reverse a doctor shortage across the state.

The Tulsa-based teaching hospital affiliated with the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine will run out of money in a year and a half if the Legislature doesn't act, officials say.

An economic impact study released Friday shows the OSU Medical Center contributes 2,375 jobs to the Tulsa area, generating more than $120 million in income.

According to the internal study, prepared by OSU's Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, the hospital generated about $1.2 million in state sales tax during the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Hospital officials are seeking $18.25 million from the state, without which officials say the hospital, owned by the city of Tulsa, would need to shut down. If the hospital receives any amount less than that, it will need to begin to cut services, officials say.

Howard Barnett, president of the OSU Center for Health Sciences, said losing the hospital would be “devastating” to the medical school's efforts to combat a shortage of primary care doctors in Oklahoma.

According to the 2012 edition of America's Health Rankings, a state-by-state breakdown of health factors, Oklahoma ranks 49th in the nation in terms of availability of primary care physicians. OSU has launched an effort to try to combat that shortage by creating residency positions in hospitals across rural Oklahoma.

Part of the reason for the doctor shortage is that Oklahoma's hospitals historically haven't had enough residency positions for all the medical students in its two medical schools.

That means medical students are forced to complete their residencies in nearby states such as Texas, Kansas and Missouri.

Because doctors typically go to work near where they complete their residencies, Barnett said, Oklahoma has been training young doctors, only to see them go to work somewhere else.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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