By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
The Charter Township of Oxford’s attempts to get a hospital built in the township have stalled, with Township Supervisor Jack Curtis citing a lack of communication from the Office of the Governor.
Curtis met with Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist in early December 2021 and worked with an aide for some time, though their conversations have since ended. Curtis then contacted Governor Gretchen Whitmer, leading to a similar situation with an aide that went cold around after a month.
After contacting Whitmer again, Curtis says she provided him a contact at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), though this contact “keeps telling me reasons why [Oxford] will not be getting one, not telling me how to get one.”
County officials, State Senator Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills) and Congressmember Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) have been helpful in supplying the township with aid, though they have little power regarding hospitals. Curtis says Bayer has been helpful providing him with information.
The previous attempt at getting a hospital in Oxford Township occurred in 2018 when the area was identified as needing a 117-bed hospital, later 121 beds in 2019. A certificate of need (CON) for the area was sent out by the MDHHS, Beaumont’s application winning and making plans with the township to build a hospital on a 25-acre plot alongside M-24 and Market St. Beaumont left the project when the CON was “disapproved” in September 2019.
Attempts have been made to get a hospital in Clarkston with McLaren Health Care in the 2000s and 2010s, though intra-industry politics have stymied McLaren’s plans. The hospital network currently operates a “medical center” in Clarkston.
While Curtis recognizes that getting a hospital will be difficult, he believes Oxford should have a hospital and sees a 2021 change to the CON process as the main barrier to getting one in Oxford. The change saw the old process replaced with a formula.
“Having a hospital here on Nov. 30 probably would not have made a difference for four lives,” Curtis said. “For seven victims, it could have helped better because each victim that had an extended stay could have possibly been in this hospital, but every parent and relative had to drive 30 minutes each way to that hospital system to visit the victim that was in the hospital. To me, that is unacceptable. The CON process change is unacceptable.”
It takes an ambulance with lights and sirens about 20 minutes in good conditions to reach hospitals in Pontiac, Rochester, Troy or Lapeer. One advanced life support-equipped ambulance is operated by three Oxford Fire Department firefighter/paramedics, who are out of the area for about two and a half hours.
Curtis encourages people and organizations that would like a hospital in Oxford to send letters of support to the MDHHS, the governor’s office, Bayer’s office, the office of State Representative John Reilly (R-Oakland Township) and other officials.