Work moves on to open hospital

This is a view from the front of Pauls Valley's hospital, which has been closed since October 2018. Today work is continuing inside as the Southern Plains Medical Group is moving toward getting the hospital back open at some point later this year. (PV Democrat photo)

Work aimed at someday soon having a hospital back open in Pauls Valley now looks to be back on track after the COVID-19 pandemic slowed things down for a while.

Renovations are now going full force as officials with the Southern Plains Medical Group are hoping to have the ongoing upgrades to the building formerly housing Pauls Valley's hospital completed by later this summer.

From there the plan is to have state officials check out the work before hopefully giving their blessing to renewing the hospital's acute care license allowing it to reopen all the way.

An update to members of Pauls Valley's city council came earlier this week. In fact, Mike Schuster of Southern Plains says he's providing regular updates to the group, along with state officials.

“I'm actually giving monthly updates to the city council and hospital authority. I also send those to the Oklahoma State Department of Health,” Schuster told the PV Democrat in a phone conversation.

“I was in town Monday looking at the progress of the repairs and was asked by City Manager James Frizell to come back and give the city council an update.

“I think we're 75 to 80 percent completed with our plan of correction.

“I'm confident the work can finish up by the end of August as we're coordinating with the health department.”

It was back in October 2018 when trustees of the PV Hospital Authority, who also serve on the city council, voted to close what was known for decades as Pauls Valley General Hospital.

A couple months later they were approached by Southern Plains about getting a closer look at the building to see if it would be feasible to possibly open a medical center there.

That led to early this past January when Southern Plains opened an urgent care and diagnostic center in the area formerly housing the hospital's emergency room.

Schuster said on Wednesday the plan is to continue working to address a lengthy list of improvements needed before asking state health department officials to take another look at the building as part of the process to get the facility's license back into the active column.

“We're really a couple of months behind schedule because contractors were home because of the pandemic and not coming out,” he said. “The work was really shut down for a while, but now the work is back.

“We've got supplies and construction tools everywhere. It's a mess right now, but I can see the progress and what's been accomplished. I have walked through the entire hospital.

“When the work is done we'll ask the health department to come back out and survey for a new license.”

According to Schuster, deficiencies have already been completed from the emergency room through the trauma rooms, lab area and hallways as the building's first floor is considered to be in “pretty good shape” right now.”

Much of the current work is on the second floor as repairs have been made elevator cabs, walls, doors and cabinets in the patient rooms.

Repairs have also been made to air conditioning units and the building's boilers as both were described as being in bad shape before the work began.

Plumbers are also in the process of checking and repairing where needed all the toilets and sinks throughout the entire hospital.

The overall cost of the renovations is expected to exceed the initial $500,000 target.

When the relicensing process gets a little closer Schuster said Southern Plains could be reaching out to Pauls Valley residents to seek their written statements “regarding the importance of having a hospital back open.”

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