Ever since Pauls Valley's hospital closed its doors there's been lots of work behind the scenes over the past year to someday bring life back to its former home.
Officials with the Southern Plains Medical Group have for some time been pretty clear about their intentions to first open an urgent care facility in that same hospital building and then go for the bigger prize – having a fully functional hospital in PV once again.
Southern Plains CEO Len Lacefield says the first phase is to open an urgent care in what was formerly the emergency room area of the hospital building closed since October 2018.
The date for that opening has changed a few times, but hopes are for it to be treating patients as early as around Nov. 18.
Whenever that opening does happen the urgent care center will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.
Lacefield stresses the center will not be the same as an emergency room.
“An ER has a higher level of life support services,” he said.
“We can't have an ER in an urgent care facility. We'll open those services once the hospital license is recovered.”
He's referring to the hospital's acute care license at the time of its closure. Work has been ongoing for months to get the license renewed by Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA).
Just last week a group of OHCA auditors joined officials from Southern Plains and the city of Pauls Valley for a few hours to take a closer look at the local hospital building to see what areas need improvement.
“With the team we have we already know about the problems with the hospital,” Lacefield said about the building itself.
“We've been in there with our flashlights and screwdrivers. We know what it's going to take to get that hospital back up to code.”
Some of the identified updates needed are roof repairs, some windows, various cracks and what is described as “touch-ups.”
“We anticipate within the next 10 days we will get a very clear picture of what we have got to do.”
Lacefield doesn't shy away from expressing his confidence, much of it based on the auditors' reactions last week, and the chances of someday actually getting a full hospital open again in Pauls Valley.
“Based on our current survey and the work from our year here I think there's a strong possibility we'll get that hospital back open.”
He adds even in the best of scenarios they're still several months away from that becoming a reality.
If the hospital's license is renewed the hope is to then reach an agreement with CMS, which is the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
This is the entity responsible for entering into agreements with operating hospitals to receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.
As for the urgent care center, once open it will operate as part of Southern Plains’ primary care and specialty clinics, pharmacy, surgical facilities and ancillary medical services in Anadarko, Chickasha, Maysville and two clinics in Pauls Valley.
“We're not a management company, but a hometown health care team,” Lacefield adds.