After nearly two months of radio silence from the Fulton Medical Center's leadership, it's unclear whether or not the county's only hospital will survive into 2020.
In early October, FMC CEO Mike Reece announced in addition to a $4.3 million mortgage, a $1.5 million line of credit and $500,000 owed to former contractors, the hospital owed $3 million to the IRS. That $3 million is due Dec. 31, he said.
Reece said the IRS debt is the biggest barrier to the hospital's survival — it's scaring away lenders that could help the hospital stay afloat long enough to pay its other debts, and it's the one he can do the least about.
At the time, he appealed to local leaders and businesspeople to come together and help keep the hospital open.
Since then, Reece and hospital leadership have declined to comment further on the matter.
The Fulton Sun roamed the streets of Fulton to gather reactions. Interviewees were asked to share their thoughts on the hospital potentially shuttering. They were also asked whether they use FMC for their medical needs and why or why not.
Nathan Borton, of Fulton
To me, seeing the hospital close wouldn't help the community. People would have to go to Columbia if, say, they got hurt in a robbery. If one of the kids breaks their leg during a football game, the FMC helps with that. They should keep it open until they find the funds. I go to the FMC because it's closer, and they can help with the small things I need.
Rebecca Zentz, of Millersburg
I think it would be a shame for the community if the hospital closed. It's nice to have immediate intervention, rather than driving all the way to Columbia. That said, probably because we live in Millersburg, halfway between Columbia and Fulton, we don't use the FMC. All of our kids' doctors are in Columbia.
Bob Sims, of Fulton
I think they should go ahead and close it. There's too much of (hospital) CEOs claiming bonuses under the table (in this country) and then claiming bankruptcy. If I have to go to prison for child support if I fail to pay my bills, what should happen to them?
I wouldn't go to Fulton Medical Center if I was on my deathbed. My grandma and aunt both died there. I wouldn't send my own parents there.
Michelle Maupin, of Fulton
I think it would be a shame to not have a local hospital. It's nice and close. I've been there a few time with myself and my children, and they've always taken good care of us.
Ginny Huber, of Fulton
I always go to Columbia to the Women's and Children's Hospital. I've been in Fulton for a year and a half, and I've heard the Fulton Medical Center will keep you and take your money, but they won't fix you. It'd be bad if it closed completely. I think we need an emergency room here in Fulton, but that's all we need. If it's something serious, you need a team of specialists, and we don't have that here.