- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

MOUNT VERNON, Mo. (AP) - Mount Vernon city officials are negotiating to acquire a 165-acre campus that had housed a rehabilitation hospital since 1907.

The Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mount Vernon officially closed Thursday, leaving more than 300 people without jobs. The University of Missouri Health System, which operated the center, announced the closing in August, citing reduced state funding and a declining patient count.

City Administrator Max Springer told the Joplin Globe (https://bit.ly/1sPXUNI ) the city hopes to take over the campus and find other tenants.

“We’re trying to get it all worked out, and we’re optimistic,” Springer said.

A Veterans Administration Clinic, which serves 17,000 veterans each year, will continue to operate on the campus.

The Veterans Administration is expected to sign a contract with the health system Friday to continue operations until Dec. 31. It plans to sign a permanent contract in January to allow the clinic to remain at the site for three years, to eventually be replaced by new clinics in Springfield and Mount Vernon.

The Mount Vernon facility has 130 beds but had just 24 inpatients at the time of the August announcement. Patients have been taken to other locations.

The University of Missouri Health System said then that it would work to help the employees find other jobs.

The closing had concerned local officials and residents, because the rehabilitation center was the largest employer in Lawrence County.

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Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, https://www.joplinglobe.com

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