Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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May 6, 2014

A season of healing for hospital — There may be no way to really know how long it will take to clear the obstacles that have burdened Pauls Valley General Hospital in recent years.

However, a couple of the most pressing issues from reintroducing a surgery department to closing out their ongoing bankruptcy process appears to be something that could become a reality within a matter of months.

It was during the most recent Hospital Authority meeting that PVGH CEO John Dolan reported how some of the first steps are indeed around the corner.

The go ahead to proceed on work on the surgery department could be coming in the next week or so. If that happens without significant delay, this means the demolition and construction could begin as early as June 13 through contractor Nabholz Construction.

“We’re talking 8 to 10 weeks we could be back live with surgery,” said Dolan.

As previously announced, the overall improvements to the surgical area will first focus on replacing the air conditioning system to maintain a humidity level between 30 to 60 percent.

Some of the other upgrades/improvements will also include creating a separate generation of power to just the emergency department, putting in a new medical equipment washer and replacing fire alarm equipment.

Should the goal hold up over the summer, the hospital could see the first surgeries beginning in the suite as soon as late August, according to Dolan.

City Manager James Frizell pointed out how in a best case scenario they could soon have a much needed second loan to help the hospital and then know what it will cost to make the surgery department happen.

“If we have our timing right we can have our bond issue and the financing for our Nabholz contract,” said Frizell.

On their financial front, Dolan discussed how much good has been done with their partnership with billing entity, Equalize RCM.

He started by stating troubling numbers like back in December where they had $1.7 million to $2.6 million in claims left unbilled.

With their help it was down to $834,000 as of the last authority meeting and is what he sees as a reasonable number for a hospital that size.

Though it took couple of months to handle it, they are now averaging 12 days before a bill is issued, which is a big improvement from well above 40 days unbilled before, noted Dolan.

Using tools like claim scrubbers to check and make sure information is accurate, he was proud to say the process is more uniform from start to following up in case a claim is denied.

“They really have a consistent process,” said Dolan, noting how Equalize has been in control of claims since early this year.

“Now they’re an essential part of our revenue cycle team.”

Another area that could see some of the final steps toward resolution is the bankruptcy with some sort of settlement as early as June. This would provide a clearer picture of the financial state of things be it revenue or debt.

“Starting June of next year we should be able to have a good budget,” said Dolan. “With actual numbers that will hold people accountable.”

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