CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - In a special called board meeting Tuesday, the Houston County Medical Board will review a hospital partnership with Little River Health Provider.
The hospital has been working with a consultant group out of Plano since last May when the East Texas Medical Center ended a 20-year relationship with the 40-bed hospital. Board President Patrick Evans said the board will probably not sign an agreement at the Tuesday meeting, but he does believe the deal is favorable for the community.
"We will first need to work out small details, so we will look at the deal and see if there are any changes to make," Evans said. "What is good about them is that they know how to work with rural healthcare."
Evans said when ETMC left the area, the level of care also dropped off.
"We have a lack of primary-care physicians and specialists who have been willing to come to a small town," Evans said. "It's not an issue a lot of small towns haven't faced. They are all facing the same issues; how do we bring in quality health care, and how do we sustain it?"
With changing healthcare laws, Evans said without the physicians, the healthcare they can offer is limited.
"If you don't have a primary care physician who can take care of your business locally, then you don't have access to a hospital," Evans said.
Evans said without a company backing the hospital, he has seen a fall off of the community coming to the medical center for care.
"We do have people in our local community that do travel to Tyler and to Lufkin," Evans said. "[We have people] who travel as far away as College Station and the Woodlands for that care."
It has not been all doom and gloom since ETMC left. In the 11 months since ETMC left, the board and county commissioners have been working to set up a new healthcare infrastructure.
"When ETMC left, we had to roll up our sleeves," Evans said. "They also left with our primary ambulance service, so we had to get ground transport, and Judge Ford was able to get that done for us. "We had a proposal for an air ambulance, so we were able to sustain that deal as well."
Evans said he believes the deals have helped attract Little River to the Pineywoods.
The meeting will start at 5:30 pm in the hospital's cafeteria.