Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 25, 2013

PVGH seeks ownership through new suitor

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — What has been a constant juggling act of keeping calm amid concern over stability at Pauls Valley General Hospital seems to finally be delivering another chance at a more secure future.

In a going back to the drawing board approach, the Pauls Valley Hospital Authority and City Council have been in discussions with another potential suitor for purchase of the medical facility and trying again a path where mutual agreement was not met with those connected to St. Anthony Health System.

While the name of the hospital group interested in exploring a purchase will not be revealed at this time as a result of signing a non-disclosure agreement, the hope comes from the fact that they will soon be engaging in a due diligence process of their own.

“With this opportunity we recognize this seems like déjà vu, we just went through this with SSM, but we are highly optimistic that this endeavor will end successfully,” said Gamble, noting how it does not mean St. Anthony will cease being the manager of the facility anytime soon.

“We’re very excited with this opportunity.”

Much like the diligence process with SSM Oklahoma, there will be about a 90-day limit for the process to take place with the interested party examining every part of the hospital from personnel to financial side of things, said Gamble.

The public is even being invited to attend a town hall style meeting at the hospital in the Loftin Conference Center at 1:30 p.m. this Friday where calm will be offered despite incorrect rumors of a closure within weeks and questions will be welcomed.

On the chapter 9 bankruptcy front, there is some positive news there as projections on handling the debt is getting a better outlook coming from an $800,000 turnaround. This is due to the restructuring of several contracts throughout the hospital system where quite a few monthly debt payments have been eliminated.

Another bit of good news is that the Wynnewood clinic run through PVGH will also continue operating after an offer to purchase it was accepted by the hospital authority, said Gamble.

It is basically a general practitioners office that was one of the areas expected to be cut in efforts to restructure debt, but now will be operated by a doctor who came in from outside the hospital system.

“That was one of the more difficult decisions because we did not want to leave friends and neighbors in a crunch,” said Gamble. “We’re excited it’s going to continue to operate.”

The debt and an inability to overcome it without a larger entity coming in is seen as worth the risk of going through it all over again primarily because the council/authority sees it as the only way to keep services from going away completely, said Gamble.

He added how it won’t be easy and will still be expensive, but the potential impact of not having a facility would also severely hamper any ability for the town to maintain economic growth in the future.

“The council and the authority has been committed from day one to saving the hospital and became aware we couldn’t save it years ago without partnering with a much larger institution,” said Gamble, pointing out how future companies like the Wal-Mart Distribution Center or Curwood would be less likely to consider Pauls Valley as a viable location without a hospital. “We’re continuing that path.”

In the end, support of the community will become even more important to the survival of the hospital as options to help accommodate a sale are considered in the coming months. The council will approach the public about those options, some of which may require a vote.

“The main thing is we’re going to have to have the community behind us or the chances for success significantly decrease,” said Gamble.

“Without the hospital we lose our future.”