Nacogdoches Medical Center will open ER, imaging center in Shelby Co.

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - In the wake of the Shelby Regional Medical Center closing its doors for good on July 11, officials with Nacogdoches Medical Center made a big announcement Monday.

The health system will build a free-standing emergency room and diagnostic imaging center in Center. The new facility will be located at the intersection of Highway 96 and Loop 500.

"Easy access is always a priority for everyone and the location that Nacogdoches has proposed will be at an intersection which will take care of Shelbyville, San Augustine, Center," said David Chadwick, the Mayor of Center. "In light of the recent closure of Shelby Regional Medical Center, we are excited that Nacogdoches Medical Center has stepped up to address the medical needs of the citizens of Center and Shelby County."

According to a press release from the health system, the free-standing ER and imaging center will function as an "off-campus department of Nacogdoches Medical Center." Although the project is still in the planning stages, Nacogdoches Medical Center officials hope to open the proposed facility by mid-2014.

"We don't have a lot of the details yet on what Tenet's full details are," said Center City Manager Chad Nehring. "We haven't seen any site plans or development plans at this point but our understanding is they're looking at probably 6 to 8 employees at any given time with 24/7 care."

The press release stated that more details will be released as they become available.

The second round of closure at Shelby Regional Medical Center came at noon on July 11. The emergency room closed at noon. The owner's inability to meet Medicare and Medicaid funding guidelines led to a loss in reimbursements.

"I didn't think it was closed for good. I just thought it was for renovations," Clyde Martin, a Shelby Regional patient, said. "We need medical attention all day, every day. I was a medic in the army and it's not good not to have medical service in your area."

According to an Associated Press story, aides to Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that he has ordered a "deep and comprehensive look" at health care facilities owned by Dallas-area physician Fariq Mahmood. The Shelby Regional Medical Center is among the rural hospitals owned by Mahmood.

The AP story said that state health officials said an inspection team visited one of Mahmood's hospitals, The Lake Whitney Medical Center in Whitney, last week.

"We'll be doing a more comprehensive look," Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said in the AP story. "We have direction to move forward and will be putting together a plan to address problems."

Douglas Wilson, the Health and Human Services Commission's inspector general, said in the AP story: "We will likely pull records, pull files, have our nurses, auditors and investigators review those records, go onsite if appropriate, and interview staff. I think the state will feel it will get an aggressive and positive outcome from us looking into it."

The AP story stated that a whistleblower warned of potential billing fraud and patient safety issues in 2008. However, several state agencies failed to share key information about situations at the rural hospitals, according to the Associated Press.

The Shelby Medical Center was one of two of Mahmood's hospitals that were shut down by regulators earlier this month, according to the AP story. The story also said that federal authorities accused Mahmood of Medicare and Medicaid fraud in April. However, Mahmood has denied any wrongdoing.

Timeline: This won't be the first time Shelby regional medical center has had trouble. The labor and delivery shut down and near closure occurred six years ago.

In 2007, Tenet owned the facility. It announced closure, but one month before it happened, the current owner purchased the facility.

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