PAULS VALLEY, Okla. – The Pauls Valley Democrat is reporting that the Pauls Valley General Hospital will be closing.
“Due to the closure of the Pauls Valley Hospital and EMS, arrangements have been made for Wadley’s EMS to station an ambulance in Pauls Valley to help us get through the weekend. We will be dispatching them as we would Pauls Valley EMS. As for future plans, that information has not been made available to our agency at this time but we will keep you posted,” said Pauls Valley police in a statement on Facebook.
The area’s only hospital is on life support and closure is drawing near.
“This hospital is close to closing. Absolutely,” said Frank Avignone, CEO of Alliance Health Partners Oklahoma. “We cannot let this hospital close. It is the only facility in the service area that can provide the kinds of services the community needs. Else you’ve got to drive, 30, 40, 50 miles.”
Alliance Health took over in July after previous management failed to turn the troubled hospital around.
Rural hospitals have different laws to follow as opposed to urban facilities.
“When management companies come into these facilities and they bring a specific game plan that does not involve that legislation and those laws, they get in trouble financially, as well as in trouble with the community and they get a bad reputation,” said Avignone. “I will tell you there are some very similar things that have occurred here.”
The situation is so serious that the hospital wasn’t able to pay employees on time.
“This is as close to the bottom as this hospital’s going to get and we’ve got to move very quickly to save it,” said Avigone, who’s leading a turnaround effort at the hospital.
A few months ago and under the former management team, a doctor was accused of running as pill mill out of the hospital.
But now, Avignone says strong leadership and community support could keep the doors open.
“There is one of the best clinical staffs in the state of Oklahoma right here,” said Avignone. “They just have not been given the support and the leadership to execute on their job.”
The hospital’s management team and the city are meeting on Wednesday to discuss a last-minute solution to keep the doors open.
Locals say they are desperate.
“I actually had to be rushed here when I had my first-born child,” said Brittnay Garret. “Look, I’m going to start crying. So, we need this hospital for people that have emergencies. I mean, what would I do if I was to have a heart attack or something? Where would I go? I don’t think I would make it to Sulphur or Purcell in time.”
About 130 people work for the hospital, and if it closes, the ambulance service will also be discontinued.