- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 1, 2017

CORDELL, Okla. (AP) - A western Oklahoma county has lost its federally funded nutrition program for young children and pregnant women.

Administrators of the Cordell Memorial Hospital in Washita County announced Monday that it could no longer provide the Women, Infant and Children program, The Oklahoman reported .

The program usually is administered by county health departments. But the hospital has provided Washita County Health Services with registered nurses and office workers to fill the need.

Hospital CEO Landon Hise said providing staff “creates a burden on us at the hospital for nursing.”

Oklahoma hospitals in rural parts of the state are struggling with an aging population and residents moving to urban areas. They see only an average of 10 patients per day. Nine hospitals have filed for bankruptcy since 2011.

Cordell said he doesn’t have a local income source, such as a sales tax, unlike other small-town hospitals.

“A year ago, we stopped offering immunizations, and now we’ve also had to cut WIC,” Hise said.

Oklahoma Department of Health spokesman Tony Sellars said it’s rare for the nutrition program to be terminated in a county.

“Right now, about half of the people in Cordell are already going to surrounding counties for WIC services, including Custer County Health Department,” Sellars said.

The nearest site for the nutrition program will be 15 miles away in Clinton.

“There comes a point where you just can’t provide all things to all people,” said Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell. “We’ve grown some of those services to the point that they’re just oversaturating the system.”


Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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