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      Putnam County Memorial Hospital celebrates new beginning

      Putnam County Memorial Hospital is celebrating its new beginning! That was the news at Saturday's open house.

      In February, the hospital feared it would have to close its doors because it was not bringing in enough revenue.

      Just four months later, the hospital has a new CEO, Cindy Cummings, two full-time physicians, and an agreement with Premier Specialty Network to bring in several specialty doctors.

      "The community feels like they can come back to the hospital, said Cindy Cummings. She and her husband became new managers of the hospital in April, after the board asked them to takeover. "They know the physicians that are here. They know the people that are working here. They can see that there's an upward progression at the hospital again. "

      The hospital will offer new services such as rheumatology, orthopedic surgery, and dermatology. By 2013, the hospital hopes to have an in-patient geriatric program, as well as re-open the operating room.

      By the end of June, the hospital will have its own women's health clinic once a week.

      "I'm very happy to be invited to be here," said Dr. Ralph Boling, who has been working as an OBGYN in Kirksville since 1992. "I'm very happy to be participating in the future growth of this community and this community hospital."

      Beginning in mid-July, the hospital will start a new program called Senior Life Solutions. It will feature social activities for those 60 and over, who have depression or anxiety and find it hard to get out of the house.

      Although the hospital is getting back on its feet, it still has to pay back $7 million in revenue bonds issued in 2006. To fix this situation, Putnam County is scheduled to have an election on Aug. 7 to vote on whether or not the county should use general obligation bonds to pay off the hospital's existing debt.

      County Commissioners and the hospital's board members are currently negotiating with the bond holder to reduce the revenue bond debt by $2-4 million dollars.

      We also took the time to talk to Mary Knowles, head of the Concerned Citizens of Putnam County.

      Knowles issued this statement:

      "On behalf of the Concerned Citizens of Putnam County, I would like to thank Cindy and Jerry Cummings, the dedicated employees, the Hospital Board, and the County Commissioners that have worked tirelessly to keep PCHM's doors open. Not only will the doors be open for this generation, the way is paved for future generations. I would also like to thank our community for rising up to the challenge. If it weren't for the "Give me $5 Campaign" donations the hospital received, our hospital would not have made it this far. We have worked toward our goal of a healthy hospital and a healthy community. We have accomplished that goal together!"

      -Mary Knowles