By Barry Dalton
Tom Carter, a co-founder of Noble Health Corporation, visited Vandalia on Feb. 22 to tour the city ahead of a town hall meeting planned for the first week of March. Noble is looking to take ownership of SSM St. Mary’s Hospital—Audrain in Mexico sometime in mid March.
Carter said that he came to Vandalia, with Eastern District Commissioner Alan Winders, to meet with different stakeholders in town who care about the future of the hospital. He said he also wants to encourage people to come to the town hall meeting, which will take place at 5:30 p.m. on March 3 at Waters Funeral Home in Vandalia
“Really, I’m just encouraging anybody that has concern for the future of their health, and healthcare in the region,” Carter said. “We welcome them to come–90 percent of the hour-long meeting is dedicated to Q&A with the public. We want to hear from the folks what their needs are. Our mindset is that this is a partnership with the region to provide them the kind of healthcare they can trust.”
Before the transfer of ownership was announced in January, some community members were worried that the hospital might be shut down permanently. Wendy Hull, the director of the Van-Far Ambulance District, said she’s happy it will remain open.
“I’m so excited about it, because it will be so much better for us,” Hull said. “Because it’s closer and right now we have to go so far to take the patients to Hannibal or Columbia.”
The acquisition by Noble includes the family health clinic at 204 W. Washington St, which SSM shut down on May 29, 2020. Carter said that a decision on the clinic has not been made yet.
“We’re not prepared, since we’re not even the owners of the facility yet, to say anything past that, but we just want the folks in Vandalia to understand that we are highly sensitive to their needs in healthcare and want to help them all we can.”
The town hall meeting will be an important opportunity for anyone and everyone in the local community to speak with the new ownership and hospital executives to voice their needs and expectations on any issue.
“We want to encourage people to be there,” said Winders. “It’s a rare opportunity for people to be able to talk to ownership of a facility like this. So take advantage. Come out. Tell them what Vandalia needs to support that facility. They want to hear it. It’s our opportunity to let them know.”