HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - After almost a year of not having a partner, Houston County's only hospital will now be under new management.
Hospital board chairman Patrick Evans confirmed the board officially signed a management agreement with Little River Medical Group on April 11. Evans said Little River will start running the hospital on April 18. No further details on the agreement are available due to a confidentiality agreement between the two sides.
Negotiations between the two groups started in February. 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.
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."