Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

November 20, 2013

Sales tax, image key for PVGH

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — With the latest change in management for Pauls Valley General Hospital, all options are open as long as it remains a fully functional facility.

Never officially off the table and brought back up during a recent meeting with PVGH staff is the on again, off again relationship with the idea of asking voters to approve a supporting half cent sales tax.

The importance of having the tax, which has twice been removed off the ballot this year, is still seen as needed by those like Mayor Gary Alfred, who said a tax could deal with concerns like helping pay for much needed equipment.

“One of the things we are going to look at is a sales tax,” said Alfred, mentioning the importance of the partnership with New Light Health Care.

“We knew that we didn’t have a plan, we knew couldn’t have convinced anybody to vote for anything, but we feel like we can with this group, with the things we’re looking at and the things we’re going to do.”

One female staff member’s inquiry included items along the lines of whether a mammogram machine could be brought in, and Alfred noted this could be helped by the tax as well as fixing other problems like getting their operating room back into a revenue generating position.

A specific date to try again was not set in stone, but a tax proposal could be sent again before voters as early as the first couple months of 2014.

New Light President and CEO Todd Biederman added how as they analyze different aspects of the hospital they will be able to project the future with or without a sales tax to a potential buyer. This will in turn compliment key capital improvements and how they will increase revenue.

However, PV resident Terry Begley spoke up during the meeting and noted if a tax is done, it should be done with much more preparation this time around.

“If you are going to do a sales tax it’s going to require that this community be informed completely,” said Begley.

“You’re going to have to do massive education, massive promotion because otherwise I think you’ll have a negative slant if you’re not careful.”

Alfred also said there is a lot of work that must be done to convince people to use the facility and spread good news, instead of focusing on an attitude that drives people away from care there. He complimented the staff, who recently got high marks in a recent report conducted by an outside entity, and noted how they will be key to helping a turnaround happen.

“We have some opinions to turn around in this town, we have a black cloud to get rid over this hospital, social media has not helped us a lot…We have to change the perception of this hospital. It’s worth keeping,” said Alfred.

“You are to be commended because one of the positives in this report is the staff, that’s a big thing here.”

Some of the last questions dealt with whether or not the new management partner had plans to put in place any positions beyond a CEO and if they felt prepared to also handle keeping strong other programs from hospice to ambulance service.

New Light Vice President Lee Hughes answered by noting as they get further along any additional administrative positions like chief financial officer or chief nurse officer will be considered to improve services and stated how they were confident enough experience was there to handle any of the services previously or currently offered.