Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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February 25, 2014

Locals say keep the hospital open — Input from the community has played a big part in a recent study on the health of Pauls Valley’s hospital.

Tom Litz of Blanchard, a former longtime hospital administrator, was brought in last fall to conduct a study of the hospital.

Part of his work included Litz talking to all kinds of people, both those associated with the hospital and others in the Pauls Valley community.

What he found was they all shared one thing in common — a desire to keep the hospital going here.

“I’ve talked to people in the community, medical staff, hospital management, all that put together, all that this hospital has faced, I determined it could be saved; that it was a viable entity,” Litz says.

“There’s tremendous support for the hospital in the community,” he said.

“I was totally blown away by the number of community leaders who have said they wanted to have a hospital here if it had good management and if they put their house in order.”

Litz is among a group of people now working to better inform local voters about a half cent sales tax on the ballot for a March 4 election.

All of the revenue from the tax, if passed by voters, will go toward a major upgrading of diagnostic services offered at the PV hospital.

Along with the support for the hospital, Litz has also discovered by talking to various people there’s some stuff going around about this tax proposal that simply isn’t true.

“I’ve learned there is a lot of misinformation out there about this sales tax,” he said.

One false belief was the revenue from the sales tax would go toward the repayment of the hospital’s old debt over the past few years.

Not true as Litz again stresses the tax money, if OK’d by voters, would go strictly for capital improvements, specifically a major upgrading of the hospital’s outdated diagnostic equipment.

Many of these services are currently provided by other hospitals in the region, which also results in that revenue not staying here to benefit the PV hospital.

“The revenue from this sales tax will be used exclusively for capital equipment.”

Litz says that’s an important thing because the financial problems experienced by the local hospital over the past five to seven years have prevented any kind of investment in keeping the kind of state-of-the-art equipment needed to keep a hospital strong.

In fact, he said this hospital’s technology, namely in the radiology department, is way behind and in desperate need of the revenue from this sales tax to catch up.

Any debt impacted by the tax would be related to the acquisition of capital equipment, while a totally separate plan will deal with any of the hospital’s pre-bankruptcy debt, Litz added.

Another false belief is the sales tax, which is on a permanent basis, would continue even in the event the hospital was forced to close later down the road.

“If the hospital ceases to exist the tax goes way,” Litz said.

“I know there are some people concerned this tax will go on even if the hospital closes. That’s just not the case.”

He also describes this hospital as being in “serious jeopardy” of closing or at the very least only providing minimal services if voters turn down the tax proposal during the election on Tuesday, March 4.

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