The solution of who will take the reins and lead Pauls Valley General Hospital into the long term future continues to be a question without a clear answer.
However, the desire to keep the medical facility a viable entity for the region was reason enough for the members of the PV Hospital Authority to make a move Tuesday night that will in a matter of days change those who are in charge of management.
It has been clear for a matter of months and a request dating back to September to sever ties that a preferable direction for PVGH was not going to involve St. Anthony (SSM Oklahoma), but only at a special meeting when the first steps were taken toward a parting of ways.
“The people we’ve talked to this point were wanting an urgent care, emergency room situation and no hospital,” said Mayor Gary Alfred.
“It’s kind of one of those things, what do you do next and to be honest with you we had a choice, we could say let’s close down the hospital, go look for somebody to open up an urgent care or we could say hey, let’s fight to keep this hospital open. I can tell you as a person on the Authority, we’re going to fight to keep this hospital open.”
The latest change of course involves hospital management and consulting company New Light Health Care out of Austin, Texas and after a unanimous vote of approval from authority members, will soon begin a transition of management responsibilities in the coming days.
Represented that night by New Light President and CEO Todd Biederman as well as Vice President Lee Hughes, their responsibilities through the agreement will basically amount up to three years where they will look for solutions to grow revenue and meet with all the employees to determine how best to build the hospital as a more attractive medical option for whatever direction develops later on.
“What we specialize in is communities keeping their hospitals local, keep them open and viable. What we do is we come in and we analyze the situation and we make recommendations and we do that together with you, with your input as well as the board’s… What we want to do is really engage with the medical staff and find out how we can work together to really turn the hospital around,” said Biederman, noting how they’ve already helped a few locations in Oklahoma either turn a profit or at least get significantly further away from the brink of closure.
“We focus on small community hospitals… If during that three years the community decides to sell or lease their hospital then we would allow our agreement to be terminated. If that’s what it looks like needs to happen, then we’ll help make that happen.”
The agreement also means a change at the CEO position, one that has been filled during the most recent tenure by Bridgette Cosby.
Stepping in at least for the interim will be New Light employee Jim Clough, though he will be assisted by Cosby during the period of transition starting this week before she takes a promotion within the St. Anthony System.
“Guys I’m going to tell you it’s going to be an uphill climb, but we’re going to do it,” said Alfred “There’s no more backing down, there’s no more excuses... Everyone involved has to be committed to keeping the hospital.”
Editor’s note: More on this special meeting between hospital staff and the hospital authority will be featured in an upcoming edition of the PV Democrat.