Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 1, 2013

Authority seeks debt restructure to save hospital

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

emann@pvdemocrat.com — What at the end of the past year seemed a sure thing when it came to the sale of Pauls Valley General Hospital into the St. Anthony Health System family, is now no longer the case.

It was a change five weeks ago that left City of PV officials like Mayor Tim Gamble scrambling for a way to keep the situation at the community’s medical facility from spiraling out of control, all of which came days before what was expected to be the positive end of a due diligence process. Far from continuing toward the final sale step at the beginning of February, instead contributed to a Friday meeting and announcement that the Hospital Authority would be filing for a Chapter 9 debt restructure.

“The authority and board had been in on negotiations for wording of the sale,” said Gamble, in an interview at the Democrat, noting how the city and authority hired attorneys to consider options on how to proceed with debt since purchase of the hospital was initially something that would have left the authority debt free. “They feel confident under protections we’d be able to restructure and remain a viable entity.”

The urgency of the decision to file for chapter 9, which is different from other forms of bankruptcy since it only seeks to reorganize debt as a way to pay it off more easily instead of debt being eliminated, was seen as the only course of action left since the authority cannot handle the financial strain as is. As a result, the authority voted Friday to sign a chapter 9 form through McDonald, McCann, MetCalf & Carwile out of Tulsa to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oklahoma.

However, Gamble wanted to make it clear that this means there will be a hospital here and one will remain as it will give them more time to explore options for the future.

Editor’s note: The full story will be online in this weekend’s edition of the Democrat.