PAULS VALLEY — SSM Heath Care of Oklahoma, the parent company of St. Anthony Hospital, wants out of its agreement to run the financially strapped Pauls Valley General Hospital and says the facility's ongoing money problems are a liability for the company.
In court documents, SSM claims the 64-bed hospital has struggled to make payroll at times and has had difficulties keeping staff and contractors since it filed for bankruptcy in March.
SSM has proposed shuttering Pauls Valley General to build a new $15 million to $20 million emergent care facility near Interstate 35 in Pauls Valley. The city claims in court documents that such a move would require many local patients and their loved ones to travel to other medical facilities in Oklahoma City for many types of care.
“As an alternative, we proposed building a new facility in the community housing comprehensive outpatient diagnostics, robust primary care offerings, and emergency services for the community modeled after the St. Anthony Healthplex East and South facilities in Oklahoma City,” SSM said in a statement. “The Pauls Valley General Hospital Authority and City of Pauls Valley elected not to pursue this option for a new facility and are seeking another buyer. We believe exiting the management agreement with Pauls Valley General Hospital now will provide them with a smoother transition to another owner or manager.”
The city of Pauls Valley responded that SSM knew of the hospital's strained finances in 2012 when it agreed to manage the municipal hospital with eventual plans to purchase the facility.
“The proposed action being undertaken by SSM is analogous to a pilot seeking to parachute from his airplane full of passengers in the middle of a transatlantic flight,” the city responded in court filings.
SSM also claims the hospital lacked proper oversight for dispensing and tracking medications for several months and needs hundreds of thousands of dollars in facility and equipment upgrades. Unable to afford new electronic medical records software, Pauls Valley General has reverted to paper-based records system that SSM described as “inadequate” in its court filing.
The city claims Pauls Valley General was effectively forced to enter Chapter 9 bankruptcy in March after SSM informed the city it no longer was interested in purchasing the hospital.
“As we looked at the opportunity more closely, we determined that given the rapid changes and financial challenges across the health care industry, this purchase was not feasible for us,” SSM said in a statement. “The decision took into account numerous factors including hospital utilization, the future state of health care under the Affordable Care Act, and the existing condition of the current structure.”
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