The City of Prague was in court Tuesday, trying to take over the town's ailing hospital.
According to Prague city leaders, their hospital has been on life support for months. Employees are consistently paid late, they are paying out of their own pockets for food for patients, and members of the community have had to donate supplies.
“It makes me sad that people care more about corporate America than what’s going on in the lives of small-town Oklahoma,” said Mary Ann Ward, a physician assistant at the hospital.
The City sued the ownership group hoping to take over operations.
On Friday, the State of Oklahoma granted a license to a hospital trust set up by the city. But the ownership group still has the Medicare license number that is essential to keeping the hospital open. That license is the sticking point in negotiations that lasted all morning.
Instead of a hearing, both sides agreed the ownership group would keep operating the hospital, at least for now, under standard practices.
“That’s part of the restraining order, they have to keep operating like a normal hospital and we anticipate that starting tomorrow,” said Mayor Cliff Bryant.
Attorneys for the City say that means employees should be paid and the ownership group would have to provide money for supplies and food.
Employees, however, in court Tuesday, still hadn't received their paychecks they were supposed to get Friday. They asked investors after the hearing when that would happen, but they didn’t get an answer.
Attorneys for the ownership group said they had no comment. However, Paul Nusbaum, one of the investors, told News 9 they are working on an electronic medical system and billing improvements that would allow the hospital to stay open, with the eventual goal of building a new hospital.
The judge scheduled next hearing on March 11.