By Woodrow Polston
One year after the closure of the Audrain County hospital, professionals in the healthcare industry have become increasingly concerned about the prospect of it ever reopening again. Having changed ownership numerous times since last summer, the facility is currently in bankruptcy proceedings and details remain vague about the efforts to move forward.
With these concerns in mind, Donna Corrado, R.N. and her husband, Dr. Joe Corrado, recently revealed alternative conceptual plans for a new Audrain County hospital. Last week, the Women’s Clubs of Perry invited Donna to speak about the vision for a new hospital in Mexico, Mo. Donna, who spoke to about 30 area residents, said that they plan to move forward with phases of the development if inaction continues at the current hospital.
“At this time, we plan to develop the vision for a new hospital,” said Donna. “While no new actions are evident, there is a possibility that the current owners will follow through and reopen the existing hospital. However, it is not clear at this time that this will be the case. We are aware of at least $150,000 in required repairs to reopen the facility, which would be much more economical than building an entirely new facility elsewhere,” she added.
The comprehensive project budget for a new hospital is estimated at $57,227,849. It would be two stories high, with 13 to 15 beds for patients. The hospital would have an ER, a place for surgery, dietary and a place to deliver babies.
Donna said that plans have been underway since 2020, when she and Joe began meeting with approximately 20 other local physicians for discussion and planning. She said that although no monetary donations have been received yet, one person has donated land for a future hospital site.
“Eddie Sydenstricker has donated land next to Walmart, facing the bypass in Mexico. We are grateful for the donation of the property, and we are preparing to set up a 501-(C)3 to accept monetary donations as well,” said Donna.
According to Donna, a market study from a Wisconsin company was commissioned that estimated numbers from the hospital in Mexico from 2014-2018. The study indicated that a hospital in Mexico serving all of Audrain County would need 44 beds to operate. The study also showed that financial problems leading up to the closure of the hospital stemmed from large salaries of the executives. It was also determined that the Mexico hospital from 2014-2018 on average had 50 people visit the emergency room every day, resulting in 300 emergency room visits each week. Those people are currently going elsewhere for urgent care because there is no longer an ER in the community. In October of 2022, Mrs. Corrado went forward with a medical building design company (Erdman) to create the plans for an appropriately sized medical center. Based on discussions with representatives from each department, and past usage, an 80,000-square-foot building would be sufficient.
“When COVID hit and the new owners, Noble Health took over, things began to implode. As the original hospital continued to change hands, it has lost its license, and has been damaged from neglect. Now there is a portion of the community who think it is time to give it up, as it has become tied to numerous lawsuits and criminal charges are pending. There is growing concern as people are seeing nothing new happening there. This is the Show-Me-state and area residents want to see action. Some wonder if they will ever be allowed to use that facility again at all. When I am asked the question, ‘would I like to see that hospital open and operating again?’ My answer is yes, I would. However, I do not want to see anybody throwing good money after bad,” Donna said.