On the clock for hospital license

Even with masks Mayor Jocelyn Rushing (left) talks with fellow PV Hospital Authority trustees Bonnie Meisel and Eric Smith before the start of a special meeting last week to discuss the status of efforts to get an expired license active again for the local hospital closed for more than two years. (PV Democrat photo)

A lot of anxious folks are watching very closely and hoping the Pauls Valley community will soon get a late holiday present with the green light to reopen a local hospital.

Officials with the Southern Plains Medical Group continue to remain more than confident they will soon get the notification that PV’s hospital, closed just over two years ago, will again have an active license to operate.

Those same officials again expressed their strong positive outlook while addressing members of Pauls Valley’s hospital authority, who also serve as the local city council, during a special meeting last week.

“I have a strong impression we’re going to have this license back,” said Richard Mathis of Southern Plains, who’s been serving as the CEO and overseeing renovations to the hospital building over the 2020 year.

“I anticipate by the end of the year we’re going to have this license back.”

Mathis and others were mostly addressing the results of a survey done by four members of the Oklahoma State Department of Health back on Nov. 20.

A year earlier a state health crew also surveyed the hospital building, closed back in October 2018, to come up with a list of deficiencies that had to be addressed before the facility could again have an active license to function as a hospital.

Both Mathis and Southern Plains consultant Mike Thomas said the good news is each and every item listed on the long plan of corrections has been addressed over the past year.

“We did have a full clearance of all the citations in the 122 pages submitted for the plan of corrections,” Mathis said.

“The outcome was, in my opinion, outstanding. They point out our deficiencies, we addressed the deficiencies and showed how we’re going to monitor the plan to prevent reoccurrences.”

Thomas exhibited his excitement by holding up a single sheet of paper while talking to four hospital trustees at the Dec. 16 meeting.

“On this it says all of these were corrected,” Thomas said about the building deficiencies.

According to the Southern Plains group, one obstacle remaining was to get some detailed paperwork coming from the survey last month into the hands of state health officials.

That didn’t appear to be a major one as the plan was to get all that information sent off to the right people by last Friday.

Another is adjusting the plan to open the hospital with six inpatient rooms ready to go, which was based on the projected need at the start.

Instead of being able to expand that number of rooms over time Southern Plains was informed they needed to have a full compliment of rooms ready to receive patients at the start.

“The biggest stumbling block was the 43 beds,” Thomas said, adding that number of hospital rooms had been reduced from 56.

“We have to prepare for all 43 rooms at the start. If we opened with six rooms and wanted more later we would have to remodel the others.”

Thomas said on the bright side the local hospital will have “all private care” areas for the inpatient rooms when the facility reopens.

He adds the health department survey last month was anticipated, while other things included in the visit were a surprise.

“We knew they were coming for the survey, but the life safety part was not expected,” Thomas said, referring to things like fire extinguishers, emergency generators, medical gas lines and even elevators.

“We have got a hospital that will get approved. You’re going to have the license as soon as we turn this in,” he said about the detailed information sent to the state health officials.

Mike Schuster of Southern Plains also said all preparations are being made now to finalize the agreement for the group to purchase the hospital and all the equipment inside from the city of Pauls Valley after the hospital license is deemed fully active.

Once the license is active again he said there could be a 60-day “ramp up” phase to prepare the hospital to start seeing patients.

Along with Southern Plains, Schuster did say there are 11 local investors who will be part of owning the hospital here.

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