Now it's time to wait as a petition has been delivered asking for state officials to conduct an investigative audit into the closure of Pauls Valley's hospital nearly two years ago.
The loudest voice of the push for an audit has been Skip Mitchell of the Forum Consulting Group in Lindsay.
After delivering the petition late last week Mitchell says he's hoping the Oklahoma State Election Board is the one checking signatures collected in the petition drive over the past month.
“I would like to see the state election board do the verification of the signatures or at least have someone from the state board down here to oversee the process,” Mitchell said, also referring to the Garvin County Election Board in PV.
He says a total of 396 signatures were collected for the petition as at least 294 are needed the audit to actually happen. The ones that will really count are from the registered voters living in the city limits of Pauls Valley.
Mitchell has been the very visible proponent for some time pushing for an audit on how the hospital was operated in its final years and the specifics of the facility’s closure in 2018.
“It all points back to the hospital,” Mitchell said. “This is the first step in finding out what happened to it financially.”
The actual petition lists out eight specific areas that auditors are asked to closely check out if a comprehensive audit happens.
• Determine if financing arrangements (revenue notes, loans, etc.) have been properly managed.
• Determine if sales tax revenue has been used according to its designated purposes.
• Evaluate the recall petition process and related communications and results.
• Review contracts, lease agreements and bid processes of the hospital facility and the ambulance service.
• Determine if the city has failed to pay wages and related benefits to former hospital employees.
• Review the city’s management/relationship with nursing home facilities across the state of Oklahoma.
• Review the possible violations of the Open Meeting Act and the Open Records Act.
• Review payments to selected personnel (contract labor, legal services, etc.).
Mitchell describes the petition drive, which started back on June 27, as an intense up and down ride but one he believes was a “success.”
“It didn't turn out the way we thought it would. It got off to a great kickoff and then it dropped off. By the third week I wouldn't say we were down, but it's safe to say the odds were against us.
“(The) last week there was a surge of people coming to sign the petition,” he said, describing the month as “intense.”
“This is a victory for not just the citizens but the former hospital employees and their families.”
He's also quick to give lots of credit to all the volunteers helping with the entire process leading up to the petition and then the drive itself the past few weeks.
“This would not have been possible without all the dozens of people who stepped up to help.
“Wow. It's a huge burden lifted off my shoulders.”