Discussions continue over Mission Hill site.

Questions remain about future services at the south campus of St. Anthony Shawnee Hospital as discussions are continuing over the 20-acres of county-owned property for which it sits that could be conveyed back to its original owner, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

An issue with the land surfaced following a letter to Pottawatomie County Commissioners from the Department of Interior that raises concern about the Mission Hill property at 1900 Gordon Cooper Drive, which was once part of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation reservation.

On that land sits the former Mission Hill Hospital building, which the county leases out for use by Saint Anthony Shawnee Hospital as a south campus, which is comprised of an urgent care clinic and is also subleased to a long-term care facility.

The Pottawatomie County Health Department building also is located on the land site.

Several weeks after this issue first surfaced, it’s still unknown is how questions over the land will affect the future of services at the south campus.

“As of today we have not received any further communication with regards to the future of the Mission Hill property. Until such time as there is some type of resolution with regards to the ownership of the south campus, the future of the healthcare services being provided to our community at the south campus will remain uncertain,” said Chuck Skillings, president of St. Anthony Shawnee Hospital.

The land where these buildings sit was deeded to Pottawatomie County in 1959 on the condition that be used for a “school or other public purpose.”

The letter reads that if the Secretary of the Interior determines that the grantee has failed to observe those provisions for at least one year, the Secretary may declare a forfeiture of the conveyance and title and then revert the land back to the United States, with such a determination made by the Secretary of the Interior being final.

“The Citizen Potawatomi Nation has submitted documentation, which, upon its face, appears to establish that the land subject to the 1959 deed is being used for commercial, non-public, purposes in violation of the terms and conditions of the deed,” the letter reads.

Since a forfeiture of the conveyance would include a forfeiture of the improvements, the Assistant Secretary encourages both Pottawatomie County and CPN to resolve this matter in a manner that would compensate the county for the present value of the improvements made to the property while still protecting CPN’s reversionary interest in the property.

During a meeting of the Board of Pottawatomie County commissioners last month, the board asked District Attorney Richard Smothermon to further check into resolution of this matter through communications with all parties involved.

Smothermon said Friday that this issue is still being reviewed.

“We’re still in discussions,” Smothermon said.

Pottawatomie County Commissioner Eddie Stackhouse, who is chairman of the board, said they’re still looking at all the legalities in-depth and that Smothermon is leading that effort.

Also at issue is a letter that has been written by the Pottawatomie County Hospital Authority to the Department of the Interior explaining that “the Pottawatomie County Hospital Authority (PCHA) does not believe that the current or any prior use violates the "public use" restriction,” especially since a significant portion is occupied by the county’s health department.

“The remaining property has been occupied and/or leased to the PCHA since at least 1967, and probably since 1963 when the hospital was first constructed. The Pottawatomie County Hospital Authority is a Public Trust whose sole beneficiary is Pottawatomie County. PCHA is considered a governmental entity and is an agency of the State of Oklahoma pursuant to Oklahoma law,” the letter reads.

Further, the letter reads, “PCHA understands that there are ongoing discussions between Pottawatomie County and the CPN regarding the future of the MHMH hospital property. PCHA has no desire to delay a resolution of this issue, and has no objection to the eventual return of the MHMH property to the CPN under appropriate circumstances. PCHA does not believe that the issue of ownership of the MHMH property can be fully resolved without the agreement and participation of PCHA and its lessees.”

In a previous written statement, CPN Chairman John A. Barrett said CPN has offered to buy the buildings from the Pottawatomie County commissioners and now offer to exchange equal valued property for the Mission Hill Hospital buildings.

“Under federal law, the entire property is forfeited. We think the fair thing to do is pay Pottawatomie County for the improvements to the land. We are very willing for the County Health Department to stay or we will exchange a new building with the county for it, as well."

Watch for updates.