Fulton Medical Center, a Missouri-based hospital comprised of 37 beds and 158 employees, is closing its doors no later than September 22, according to an announcement from its executive directors.

The center is the only hospital in Fulton, Mo, located in central Missouri’s Callaway County. The county has an estimated population of approximately 44,834.

“After careful consideration and in light of the challenges facing rural hospitals in today’s healthcare environment, we have made the difficult decision to close Fulton Medical Center, no later than September 22, 2017,” shares Mike Powell, chief executive officer of FMC, in a media release.

“We are deeply grateful for the dedicated efforts of Mayor LeRoy Benton and the Fulton City Council, as well as Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungermann and the County Commission, who for several months have worked tirelessly with us to pursue every possible path in an effort to make the hospital sustainable.

“Our first priority today, and in the next 2 months, will be ensuring continuity of care for our patients and supporting the employees of Fulton Medical Center,” Powell adds.

“During this transition, it is our goal to help all employees find employment,” states Dan Tasset, chairman of NueHealth, the parent organization of FMC. “We have partnered internally to provide priority consideration for open positions within NueHealth facilities.”

“While this is a difficult decision, we hope it will open a new dialogue between private and public entities about the future of rural healthcare and how we can work together to ensure that healthcare services are available to rural communities,” he continues.

The decision to close the facility was based on several factors, including low patient volumes, an old physical plant in Fulton that needs extensive repairs and upkeep that cannot be justified due to the low patient volumes, the inability to expand the facility to provide additional operating revenues, and the inability to provide a new care delivery model due to the denial of a Certificate of Need application by the Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee necessary to expand the FMC clinical footprint, per the release.

[Source: Fulton Medical Center; United States Census Bureau]