“We had to enter bankruptcy, but we have been trying diligently to keep the hospital open any way possible,” Frizell said.
With about 200 employees, Pauls Valley General is one of the largest employers in Garvin County and an important economic engine for the town of about 6,100, Frizell said.
SSM's plans for the new emergent care facility have not moved forward, as the city has decided to weigh other options to keep Pauls Valley General open, including asking residents to vote on a half-cent sales tax increase to support the hospital. An election date has yet to be set.
Mercy Hospital also has been named as a possible buyer for Pauls Valley General. The city and Mercy have partnered to hire a consultant to conduct an audit on the hospital in advance of a possible sale.
Mercy declined to comment on the prospect of purchasing the hospital.
Although the community would prefer to keep Pauls Valley General open, city officials have not completely dismissed SSM's proposal to build a new emergent care center, said Chad Kutmas, who has been representing Pauls Valley General in the bankruptcy.
“We haven't written that off — it's something that is still in the cards,” Kutmas said. “We are still looking at our options, including SSM's proposal for a new emergent care facility.”
Bankruptcy court judges rarely grant motions to get out of a contract like the one SSM has filed, especially because the city has been consistently paying SSM for its services since entering bankruptcy, Kutmas said.
Even if the court allowed SSM to get out of its three-year agreement to manage the hospital, Pauls Valley would likely be given adequate time to find a new management company or make other arrangements to keep the hospital open, he said.
“Bankruptcy courts are in the business of reorganizing debtors, not closing hospitals,” he said.
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