Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 3, 2014

More than votes at stake

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — On the eve of a big election a doctor who still calls Pauls Valley his home believes the voting results in a few days will have a huge impact on the future health of the entire region.

Dr. John Sacra now lives in Tulsa but he has a definite interest in the fate of a half cent sales tax election, which if passed by voters on Tuesday, March 4 will be used to benefit the health of Pauls Valley General Hospital.

Officials working the past few weeks to promote the tax have been clear the hospital likely won’t survive without the revenues from this measure.

Sacra was not only born in Pauls Valley, he graduated from high school here and even returned to PV recently for a surprise party to celebrate his 70th birthday.

As a physician Sacra has been involved with emergency and trauma medicine throughout his career.

Even today he still serves as a consultant to the Oklahoma Department of Health for Trauma System Development.

With his background in medicine and a love for his hometown, Sacra says lives are literally at stake with this election and not just votes.

“Lives would be lost if that hospital isn’t here,” Sacra said in a conversation this week with the PV Democrat.

“I can tell you that without the presence of a hospital in Pauls Valley, the health and welfare of all the fine people living and working in the area will be potentially compromised,” he said.

“Not to be overly dramatic, but the truth is a half cent sales tax is a small price to pay to have a public health safety net in place that has in the past and will in the future save lives.”

Estimates are the tax, if approved by voters on a permanent basis, will generate in the neighborhood of $600,000 a year with all of it going for a major upgrading of the hospital’s diagnostic equipment and services.

Sacra says those improvements are important, along with planned upgrades to the hospital’s emergency room and a return of surgical services.

Equally important for Sacra — Pauls Valley is a key spot geographically when it comes to emergency and trauma situations — something he knows quite well from his work over the years.

He stresses this is what’s important for the whole region as patients with “time sensitive conditions” need to be stabilized quickly before being transferred, if necessary, to a larger facility in cities like Oklahoma City, Norman, Ada or Ardmore.

That, he says, makes PV’s hospital “uniquely and perfectly situated,” especially when lives are on the line and seconds count.

“We’ve got to have a hospital that provides the basic medical services and in emergency situations help stabilize patients before they’re transferred to another hospital,” Sacra said.

“This is something people don’t want to lose. If the community loses it, it’s going to be difficult to ever get back.

“Fifty cents on every $100 spent is a small price to pay for ensuring that Pauls Valley keeps its hospital open.”

Sacra added he also believes the plan for the tax revenues is a good one.

“Voters can be confident that the tax is well thought out and will be dedicated to a strategic plan that gives the best possible chance for the future success of their hospital,” he said.

“The soul of any community is grounded in the strength of its schools and public safety.

“I simply cannot imagine a bright future for Pauls Valley without a hospital designed for the future and dedicated to the welfare of its citizens.”