FULTON - On Thursday, people came together to have their voices heard about the future closing of the Fulton Medical Center. The hospital is the only one that that serves the healthcare needs of the Fulton and Callaway County and will close September 22.
One Fulton resident, Jeffrey Galbreth, said it's a matter of life and death.
"I woke up with all my family around because they didn't think I was going to make it," Galbreth said. "So they called all the family in and everything."
Galbreth said he is alive today because he was treated Fulton Medical Center.
"In my case, if the hospital wasn't there I wouldn't be here today to speak in front of the people and in front of you also," Galbreth said. "By that time my coworker said I wasn't responding to her at all."
Galbreth was treated at Fulton Medical Center after he got dizzy at work in June.
"Things got worse from there, Galbreth said. "I tried to get breaths, and I couldn't get my breath. It was hard for me to breathe."
Galbreth said he was having rapid heart beats.
"They said, 'We're going to have to shock him to bring that heart rate down,'" Galbreth said. "I heard that and then all of a sudden the guy just hit me with the pads and shocked me. I came up off the table, I laid back down and then that's all I remember. Then my wife told me afterward that they had to shock me again to bring me back to life again."
Galbreth said the people of Fulton and Callaway County need a local hospital to serve them.
"Incidents like mine that either happen at work or in a nursing home or whereever it may be at, you ain't got time to make it to Columbia or Jefferson City or Mexico to get to the doctor," Galbreth said.
Missouri Faith Voices, Court Street United Methodist Church and First Presbyterian Church of Fulton held the public meeting at Court Street United Methodist Church in Fulton. City, county, and state-elected officials were invited to attend the meeting.
Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Fulton Aaron White said he has heard from a lot of people from the community.
"We've heard from the person who has a health care need that requires regular testing and relies on our local hospital to provide that service," White said. "We've heard from employers who when they have a need for one of their employees, they rely on the Fulton Medical Center."
White said he has heard from people who have had life-threatening situations who said they would not have made it if they had to travel to a farther hospital.
"We've heard from from our colleges who are extremely concerned about having students without local access to medical care and the possibility that the the nearest care center may be 40 minutes away," White said.
Meeting organizers said it's essential for the community to express their concerns about the future of health care in Callaway County. The announcement of the hospital came days after MU Health decided to sell its 35 percent stake in the hospital.
However the Fulton Medical Center said the hospital is closing for a variety of reasons, including low patient volume; an old physical building in Fulton that could not be repaired due to financial reasons; and inability to meet a new care delivery model due to a denial of a Certificate of Need application. The hospital has 158 employees.
"Losing this hospital facility would very truly mean the loss of life in the future," White said.