Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

May 9, 2013

Authority takes lead with hospital changes

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — Sustaining the future for Pauls Valley General Hospital still has a way to go before those involved can even begin to find a level of comfort, and it was at a special hospital authority meeting this week where the latest steps in moving forward took place.

In a decision that will ultimately shift control of day-to-day operations of the medical facility over to the Hospital Authority, it was a recommendation to suspend the hospital board indefinitely by current chairman Hugh Vaughn that was the newest development.

After a lengthy closed-door session, this was determined to be the best course of action by hospital board members and will now involve reworking the lease agreement for the hospital to reflect the changes in decision making.

“It was put in place because whenever they decided to create the hospital they created the hospital authority and then created the board to be the direct supervisor over hospital affairs,” according to City Manager James Frizell, who helped clarify what the decision means.

“The management of the hospital is being turned over to the hospital authority.”

Vice Mayor Billy Riddle pointed out that it was also a mutual agreement and is not a termination of the board.

In the end, the earliest anything would become effective as far as the change would be through a vote on an agenda item that is expected to happen at the next city council meeting on May 14.

“I wanted to add one caveat that we would be available to the councilmen at any time they needed us and be glad to serve at their pleasure,” said Vaughn, adding how they would still volunteer their time if an issue required their expertise.

“We will be available for whatever you need us for.”

Eventually, this will not mean a separate night per se for hospital authority meetings, but will basically guarantee a three-part meeting every other Tuesday night joining regularly with city council and the municipal authority, said Riddle.

“We will be functioning as the authority/board,” said Riddle. “We had a good long discussion with the board.”

Another item voted on by council/authority members with unanimous support was authorization for individuals like James Frizell and the chapter 9 bankruptcy attorneys seek proposals from potential lending institutions for a line of credit for PVGH.

Recommended by City Attorney Jay Carlton, the amount sought after would basically be up to about $3 million, with the intent of keeping things afloat until a potential suitor considering purchase decided to make such a move.

Though there has not been a particular deadline set for when the money would be needed, Frizell said the line of credit would need to be secured as soon as possible.

Some of the financial troubles due to the lack of funding also tied into two other discussion items at this meeting like the need for a more efficient way of tracking drugs given to patients and the rising cost of repairs on an aging ambulance fleet.

It was previously noted at a town hall meeting by Mayor Tim Gamble that this credit and any previous debt could potentially in the future be paid off by a time limited sales tax, which would then make purchase of the hospital more attractive.

This as well as other options are now on the table as a new 90-day due diligence reviewing all aspects of the hospital also began about two weeks ago by an unnamed suitor for the facility.