Any rescue bid for Taihape's hospital needs to secure $1 million within days as Whanganui District Health Board begins moving out elderly residents.
A community trust that ran the North Island town's health service is broke and the health board is doing away with 20 rest home and four inpatient beds, effectively closing the hospital.
It will mean a round trip of three hours or more to Whanganui or Palmerston North to visit ill or elderly people.
There is talk of nurses putting together a rescue bid for the service.
But Whanganui health board planning and funding manager Tracey Sheibli says that would require a cushion of three months of operating capital - about $1 million.
Taihape farmer Les Rowlands has followed the health trust's decline and says travellers on State Highway 1 will be at risk.
He believes urgent services will inevitably deteriorate once the residential wing is gone.
Mr Rowlands says the area's rescue helicopter, ambulance and fire service rely on the 24-hour nurse cover made possible by staffing of the rest home and general beds.