Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

October 28, 2013

Vote key to hospital's future

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

emann@pvdemocrat.com — For all the efforts that have been made to ensure that Pauls Valley General Hospital has a shot at a long term future, in the end, a lot of it will come down to the will of the public.

Despite the uncertainty that remains of whether or not the Mercy hospital network will be adding the Garvin County entity into the fold, PV City Manager James Frizell still believes implementation of a half-cent sales tax is something that has to happen.

In the end, he believes the people will have a significant part of the final say whether or not this medical presence remains and the decision to do so is only a little over two weeks away.

“Our intent right now is to move forward, we can’t wait any longer to move forward to put it into the people’s hands, hopefully help us keep it open,” said Frizell, referring to the hospital and a quickly approaching election.

“I just don’t think personally the hospital can survive without it.”

With the election set for Tuesday, Nov. 12, this will actually be the second attempt to take the tax measure to the voters after it was rescinded from the Sept. 10 election back in August.

At the time Mercy had not been named officially as a suitor and councilmen did not feel confident in presenting it on the ballot without at least the name being there.

“The public has to have faith in what the hospital is doing,” said Frizell.

“We hope they have enough faith that they can see fit to pass the sales tax so that we can keep it running.”

While there is confidence that this is the right thing to do, there is hope that Mercy will make a decision to purchase the hospital and strengthen the overall cause.

However, Frizell noted that the door is still open to other entities to step in and make an offer even as a continuing audit on the past few years on the facility overall and areas like hospice may be the only thing keeping Mercy from committing.

“Eventually there will be someone we will partner with,” said Frizell. “We have some ideas, it’s just not there yet.”

Frizell even took a moment to note that despite the situation not working out with St. Anthony Health System as a partner, through it has provided many positives, especially current PVGH CEO Bridgette Cosby. He pointed out how her work has done a lot to help buy time to make it to the election where people can vote on this sales tax proposal.

“Bridgette has been a trooper in this,” said Frizell. “We couldn’t have gotten where we are without Bridgette.”

If approved by voters the tax would be in place on a permanent basis or at least as long as the hospital continues to serve the community, said Frizell.

The money generated by the tax would then be used for a variety of purposes including purchasing capital equipment and helping pay off a 20 year note/line of credit of $3.15 million.

“If this tax does not pass the future of the hospital is in doubt,” said Frizell.

“It is paramount that we do get this passed cause the hospital cannot stand on its own two feet, regardless of who’s running it.”

Editor’s note: More on the sales tax measure going before voters on Nov. 12 will be featured later in the PV Democrat.