Hiring the right people is the next step as officials with the Southern Plains Medical Group are working to get staff in place as early April is the targeted time to reopen Pauls Valley's hospital.
Both Richard Mathis, who is the chief executive officer of the local hospital, and community liaison Heather Mullens say right now they are looking at April 1 as the day to bring back a hospital that's been closed since October 2018.
That date was chosen to provide a little more time to get the employees hired who are a good match for the positions needed.
“We want people to know that we're getting ready to open,” Mathis tells the PV Democrat.
“We've got a lot of folks who are very excited, and we've got our naysayers asking how we can make it work. We're here and we're committed to this. We want to get open and start treating patients.
“We want to be something that people are asking how did they take a closed facility and make the business model work so it could be reopened. I think what we're doing is an extraordinary thing.
“We've got to stay relevant and not overlook any opportunity to serve this community.”
Mullens said taking a little extra time to get the right staff in place is important as the hospital here prepares to take that big step of returning to the business of providing health care services to the Pauls Valley community and overall region.
“This is the time to hire the right staff instead of just hiring people,” Mullens said.
“We'd rather take a little extra time to hire the right people; the people that best fit the positions. People are coming in dropping off their resumes, and we're targeting individuals that we would like to work for us.
“We're looking at the people that are really good fits for this hospital. Rural hospitals are different than the large corporate hospitals in large cities.”
Another big part of the hiring process is using the data from a community needs assessment that has been ongoing for a couple of years.
“We've looked at each position and what our needs are,” she said. “We've looked at what our community needs are and what we can do to provide that.
“When he first looked at reopening this hospital we began to look at what the community needs are and the services we can provide.”
Right now the plan is to bring the hospital back with around 40 full-time employees and another 20 to 25 part-timers.
It will bring back an emergency room open 24 hours a day, seven days a week as the urgent care center in that space will at some point be moved.
The hospital will continue offering lab work and diagnostic testing as services like surgery are expected to return at some point after the hospital reopens.
Mathis says the hiring process actually started several months ago as a number of potential employees have essentially been recruited.
“We're reached out to folks in neighboring hospitals and the relationships we've built over the years,” Mathis said.
“We've learned there's a lot of licensed health care professionals that live around here and get up early and drive away going to work at hospitals in other cities. We want to give them the opportunity to come back to this hospital and follow that dream of serving others with us.
“We've had people recommended to us by folks here in the community, which is a pretty close knit community.”
He adds a reputation for Southern Plains also comes with “reviving” a hospital closed for so long leading to a number of physicians, nurses and others in health care coming to seek a job here.
Another part of the ongoing assessment is intended to help hospital officials know what services need to be offered once the facility is open.
“We have reached out to the community and asked them and the employers what they wanted. We know if we deliver that to the community then we'll keep getting people coming in to this hospital,” Mathis said.