Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

October 25, 2012

Hospital heading for possible sale

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — What has been a slow and steady process since Pauls Valley General Hospital entered into a management agreement with St. Anthony Health System back in February now appears ready to take a much anticipated step.

After essentially placing the medical facility and grounds on the market over a month ago through a request for proposal process, the city council and hospital authority was ready Tuesday night to hear the only concrete offer, according to City Attorney Jay Carlton.

Though it was no surprise that St. Anthony was the one who stepped forward with a presentation after the Oct. 19 deadline passed, it makes it easy for the city government to say yay or nay when they vote on the proposal at a special 5:30 p.m. Thursday meeting.

For those like City Manager James Frizell, this news is welcome after a couple of years of uncertainty through discovering inefficient handling of debt and hospital leadership changes.

He noted how moving forward with an offer like this would only benefit the community since closing the facility has never been an option.

“It is a big step forward for the community,” Frizell said before the meeting. “Unfortunately the hospital has languished, has not been able to meet it’s needs and it’s just a big thing for the community.”

During the waiting period Carlton said there had been some interest expressed by Mercy Hospital at one point to discuss a potential offer, but when the deadline passed they had sent a letter declining to make an offer. Had they made an offer, Wednesday evening was set aside ahead of time just in case.

Should the city/authority choose to approve the proposal at city hall by St. Anthony on Thursday, a letter of intent outlining the proposal would then be signed by SSM Oklahoma, said Carlton.

This would then begin a 90 days due diligence process where all information connected to the hospital would be opened up to the buyer.

If St. Anthony and the city are still in agreement on a proposal after that time, the city and authority would then enter into an official contract after about an additional 60 days, said Carlton.

Though the date is not officially set on when a sale would be completed, it would not likely start any earlier than April 2013.

Frizell also said allowing St. Anthony to take on the hospital through ownership is also a relief because they have the resources to not only take care of the debt, but to actually improve it and attract more patients. He said this comes from how excellent the relationship has been between the authority and SSM.

“It’ll be a huge burden lifted off our shoulders,” said Frizell. “It’ll be a hospital the community can be proud of, have confidence in.”