With the recent decision to try again to bring a sales tax initiative before voters that will help save Pauls Valley General Hospital has come the opportunity for leaders to explain why they believe it is necessary.
It’s been an idea Vice Mayor and Hospital Authority Trustee Jocelyn Rushing has been behind the whole time, but attributes a lot of her recent support to the previous year when her mother spent time receiving care through the facility’s hospice services. Through that time from June to October, having the care local allowed her to spend more time being around her mother without having to give up her job and allowed her to witness that there is a lot of good going on despite a persistent reputation.
“For me personally, Pauls Valley General was a wonderful place… Had she not been in Pauls Valley I would have had to take a leave of absence from my job so that I could be present when doctors were making their rounds,” said Rushing, “For me personally, what I went through with my mother, it opened up my eyes to what a value Pauls Valley General is to our community.”
Rushing also has recent experience on how inconvenient it can be to have to travel out of town for medical care as she did for a couple of recent surgical procedures, which required her children to come in from out of state to drive her to Purcell instead of getting a ride just blocks away from her house. She believes it is even worse for some who cannot travel, whether it is those who are home bound or living in nursing homes.
“As I’m aging I certainly don’t want to always be on the road to get medical care,” said Rushing, noting how a tax will help add services back like surgery. “When you have aging parents who have medical care it is awful nice to be able to stay in your own home.”
Rushing added how she understands why some people may wish to avoid hospitalization in Pauls Valley, but if it is a medical emergency a person needs to be seen immediately and pointed out how it’s critical for not just Pauls Valley, but Garvin County that one be able to be able to get somewhere quickly. She said this is largely why a half-cent sales tax is needed, as it offers something that can give that chance of survival a boost, even if the stop is just prepping for a larger facility.
“With all the negativity it’s easy to get caught up, but for every negative story I’m certain there are positive stories that have come… It’s just like life, you have to take the bitter with the sweet and we’re just looking for it to get sweeter,” said Rushing. “I’m going to be honest and say Pauls Valley General Hospital won’t be the hospital it was in the 70s, 80s and 90s, but I do believe we need a hospital with some in patient bedding… Not just an urgent care. We do need some beds for people.”
In the end, while the city has borrowed and stepped up to help through avenues like taking on a loan, Rushing said there are expenses that loom for the future that are likely beyond what the city can fund. This includes repairing areas that have not received recent necessary attention as well as improvements for the hospital’s future from mammograms to CT scans.
Rushing believes items like that technology could be used to keep people from going out of town with the help of the sales tax. The date for the vote is set for March 4.
“I don’t know that the hospital can continue without it… I don’t know that as gracious as the banks have been that they will continue to lend,” said Rushing. “The sales tax means that at least there is some influx of money to continue with the hospital.”
Editor’s Note: An article featuring more of Rushing’s comments on the necessity of the hospital sales tax, including the impact of competing with the county sales tax and overall taxation will be featured in a future edition of the Democrat.