Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

September 19, 2013

Hospital Authority promises vigilance — Questions as to what anyone can expect when it comes to Pauls Valley General Hospital’s future continue as the answers given for many feel few and far between.

Attempting again to offer vital motivation and hope throughout the continuing saga, the Hospital Authority met recently with staff at the facility in order to convey that the recent promising options continue to be on the table.

However, expanding on why the delays continue, Chairman Gary Alfred, Trustee Jocelyn Rushing and Trustee Patrick Grimmett, noted how much of it comes down to a due diligence not being enough time for the hospital’s suitor cover all areas or go public with their intentions.

“They kind of put us into a corner as to what we can and can’t say…It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s not that we maybe can’t, we just really can’t,” said Alfred, mentioning the confidentiality agreement they signed.

“Because we’re under contract as far as what we can and can’t say.”

One of the biggest reasons for the delay pointed out by Alfred was how as the suitor finished some of their work the past few months, they discovered how there had not been a proper financial audit done for a few of the recent years.

Grimmett pointed out how this has contributed to a feeling for them that as they attempt to make progress, something happens to reverse it and this is why no announcement has currently been made.

“The reason for the delay is all avenues on financial stability have not been discovered yet,” said Grimmett.

However, Grimmett feels that once this audit takes place, it should speed up the process considerably and the hope is that it will be going strong in the coming weeks.

Alfred said once that is over, they will then be able to sit down and discuss moving forward with the next steps.

Answering an inquiry from one lady there in regards to if anything will be added or removed service-wise; Grimmett said that because of the delays with financials there is no talk with the suitor as far as making any changes.

In regards to cuts that have already been made, Rushing said it is entirely possible that services like Obstetrics and surgery could return under a new owner.

“We have not gotten to the point of discussing cutting services or sections, just financials,” said Grimmett.

Trustees were asked repeatedly by those in attendance if there is an official date on when they will know more and answering, they did not feel comfortable setting deadlines in general since much of this is day to day.

Alfred also answered another inquiry by noting how there is no time limit on how long they will give their suitor before they cut them out of consideration and it was Grimmett who said they just want to make sure no stone is left unturned in order to make sure all parties benefit.

In the end, Alfred mentioned that there was at least one positive development that did arise from the delay and that was how the suitor will pay half the cost of bringing in a consultant in order to determine how best the hospital can become more financially stable moving forward.

They are also still under contract with St. Anthony to act as their manager until 2014, which gives them a bit more breathing room until those ties are eventually severed.

“It has to be right for you guys, us and them,” said Alfred. “I don’t want you to think we’re just sitting back hoping something will happen.”

Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two part article on the hospital meeting. A follow-up will be featured in a future edition of the Democrat.

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