It has barely been over a month since Jim Clough took on the title of interim CEO for Pauls Valley General Hospital.
However, since his arrival on Nov. 11, he has discovered why so many are as adamant as they are about keeping the institution and is discovering a solid foundation upon which a recovery can be built.
Right away he wants to make it clear how he is not the whole solution, but is only part of the latest attempt and can only be effective in his role if he can gain the cooperation of the employees who work for him as well as support of the community.
“In this business you’ve got to have people who are experts in their disciplines. I think the strengths that I see here are a good group of physicians, who reside in the community and that’s a real plus,” said Clough, noting how efforts were already underway before he arrived through the employees as well as a city that is committed to turning the hospital around through the hospital authority.
“I plan to boost morale and give employees hope.”
Throughout Clough’s career, he has primarily handled turnarounds or situations similar to what PVGH is going through and he has been around the medical field his whole life going back to when his dad owned and operated an ambulance service.
His attraction to the area came from his own rural upbringing in Creighton Nebraska that seemed to offer a similar set of core values, so it didn’t take too much consideration and it when he was approached by New Light Health Care President Todd Biederman with the opportunity here in Garvin County.
Clough said the uneasy days Pauls Valley’s medical facility has seen is not unlike the dark cloud that had settled on a previous hospital system where he worked in Anadarko, where he spent one year helping them find a pathway to staying open.
The set of circumstances he saw there were different there, but the result was at least a foothold and believes there is a future worth fighting for.
“That hospital has been to hell and back like this one,” said Clough, who was with a hospital in Cleveland Oklahoma before here and first came to Oklahoma when his wife went to school at Oral Roberts University more than a couple of decades ago.
“People there at hospital were survivalists like here.”
While Clough noted how the main focus of New Light will always be health care first, it does not mean that they cannot have an active presence in the community as well.
He noted that in Anadarko the main thing that helped turn things there around there was how they helped establish programs in the community, which invested in a future for youth who suffered from a lack of opportunities.
“I think we also have to find a way to make a positive impact in any areas of the community we have an opportunity to do so,” said Clough.
In the meantime, it will be a while before management partner New Light discovers all what needs to be done, but one of the things that still motivates Clough in this line of work is finding creative ways to handle the constant changes in health care. He can say he’s never been bored a day in his life in the profession and does not plan on putting his feet up and relaxing throughout any of it.
Some of the other plusses that gives Clough confidence for the future is the geographic position and how it makes sense to have a hospital here when it is so far to drive anywhere else for care.
He believes health care is something that can’t be done without and encourages people to approach him as long as he is around.
“We provide an essential service,” said Clough, who is eventually planning to move to the Pauls Valley area and is working on selling his home between Tuttle and Newcastle
“Health care is really something we all need and have access to… We have to give people a reason to be confident in what we do.”
Editor’s note: More comments from Clough involving an update on the facility will be featured later in the PV Democrat.