A judge has authorized evangelist Oral Roberts to proceed with construction of a 777-bed hospital here pending a ruling on a last-ditch appeal from the Tulsa Hospital Council.
The council has opposed construction of the facility on the grounds that nearly one-third of Tulsa's 2,944 hospital beds are empty at any one time. The new facility, they argue, would further reduce occupancy rates, thus driving up the cost of health care in the area.
James E. Winslow, Jr., vice provost for medical affairs of Oral Roberts University has contended that the projected medical center would draw so many ailing people to Tulsa that other hospitals would benefit from the overflow.
The Oklahoma Health Systems Agency voted twice in recent months to recommend that the state's Health Planning Commission reject the proposed hospital. Following a massive letter-writing campaign by Roberts' supporters, during which about 400,000 letters were received by the commission in six weeks, the three commissioners voted unanimously to approve the hospital.
Lawyers for the Tulsa Area Hospital Council asked District Court Judge Ronald Ricketts to stop work at the site until their appeal of the commission's decision could be decided. But the judge ruled that the council had not shown that "irreparable damage" would result if construction went forward while the appeal was being heard.
The hospital and other facilities in the medical complex, including a 20-story research center and a 60-story doctors' clinic, will be located on the campus of Oral Roberts University. One of the purposes of building a hospital, according to university officials, is to give students at the school of medicine an opportunity to gain clinical experience.
Oral Roberts University has raised more than $28 million of the $55 million initial-stage costs. Roberts, a United Methodist, has asked donors to send contributors in amounts of $7, $77, $777 or $7,777.