Sulphur Springs is helping organize an Independence Day run to save the town’s hospital. The Mountainview Medical Center is the only hospital within 70 miles. The 25-bed facility, which provides 24-hour emergency care, was in such dire straits earlier this year it couldn’t afford to pay its 70 employees. And while things have gotten better thanks to donations, hospital officials say they’re not out of the woods yet. That’s where Caitlin Rock’s idea comes in. Rock will be a sophomore at White Sulphur Springs High School this fall. She helped organize a marathon fundraiser for a cancer patient in California, and came up with the idea for the Race to Save This Place Fun Run and Walk. She told her mom about it, and a race committee was quickly formed. “If our hospital goes down, what happens to our town?” Elizabeth Rock said. “It will die.” The July 4 event includes a 5K run and 1-mile fun run, as well as a late morning parade and an evening barbecue. Runners and speed walkers can win medals for competing, said race committee member Paula Harshbarger. Harshbarger, who has twin 2- year-old sons, said she can’t fathom driving 70 miles to the next-closest hospital in Livingston or 80 miles to the nearest sizable medical center in Helena. “I can’t imagine if we had an emergency how long it would take,” she said. “It would be pretty devastating” if Mountainview Medical Center closed. The hospital’s financial problems came to light in January after the chief executive officer left for another job, said John Dracon, chairman of the board of directors. Hospital leaders had spent about $3 million in three years on renovations, nearly draining an endowment fund started by Alberta Bair, he said. Another $1 million in the account was inaccessible because it was being used as collateral on a loan, and the hospital owed $600,000 in short-term debt. “We couldn’t make payroll, and no banks would loan us money,” Dracon said. “It was looking grim.” But as word of the crisis spread, so did help from the community. A local rancher put his ranch up for collateral, and Meagher County cattle producers donated $20,000 in proceeds from the sales ring. Another $50,000 came in from an extended family of ranchers, and a part-time resident wrote a check for $25,000, Dracon said. Donations totaled about $150,000, leaving the hospital with just one large short-term debt. Dracon said hospital revenues won’t likely ever cover its $4.3 million annual budget, so philanthropy will have to become a permanent fixture in its future. “We can’t operate just on revenue from patients,” he said. “There’s not enough volume.” “All these small, rural hospitals are in the same boat. They’re right on the edge,” Dracon said.