Investigating the Business of Oklahoma’s Rural Hospitals

This series was produced in partnership with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. The Frontier is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

How the CARES Act forgot Oklahoma’s most vulnerable hospitals

BRIANNA BAILEY  January 26, 2021

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COVID-19 relief was meant to give a lifeline to hospitals, especially the small, rural facilities that struggled to stay open before 2020. But in states like Oklahoma, problems created by confusing guidelines could cause harm long after the pandemic.

The only hospital in Mangum was failing. They promised to help but only made it worse.

BRIANNA BAILEY  June 4, 2020


Rural Oklahoma communities are desperate to protect their vulnerable hospitals and hand the reins to management companies that say they’re turnaround experts. Instead some companies failed the hospitals, bled them dry and expedited their demise.

These Hospitals Pinned Their Hopes on Private Management Companies. Now They’re Deeper in Debt.

BRIANNA BAILEY  July 22, 2020


At least 13 hospitals in Oklahoma have closed or experienced added financial distress under the management of private companies. Some companies charged hefty management fees, promising to infuse millions of dollars that never materialized.

She needed lifesaving medication, but the only hospital in her Oklahoma town did not have it



Mabel Garcia went to the only emergency room in Texas County, Oklahoma, which didn’t have a drug for heart attacks and strokes. She was airlifted to a larger hospital that gave her the drug she needed, but it was too late. She suffered brain damage.

This Oklahoma hospital has only 8 nurses left. They double as the janitors.

BRIANNA BAILEY  April 23, 2020


Eight nurses are the overwhelming majority of employees who remain at Haskell County Community Hospital. The future of the 25-bed hospital, which has been whittled down to operating only an emergency room since 2019, is increasingly grim.