Nacogdoches Memorial Health Board to decide fates of county's rural health clinics
By Gary Bass| January 4, 2017 at 10:23 PM CST - Updated August 12 at 10:40 PM
NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE)
The closures of rural clinics owned by Nacogdoches Memorial Health are under consideration by hospital district board members.
The residents who use Care First Clinics aren't happy about the possibility of losing personal and convenient health care.
Cushing residents lobbied years ago to keep a health clinic open in their small community. They won their argument.
Once again, Darrel Thomas and others are ready to provide reasons to keep the clinic open. They've relied on it for about two decades.
"I'm legally blind and I have strokes occasionally and the clinic is here just two blocks away where I live at,” Thomas said. “I come here for checkups and our medication is delivered here by Striplings."
The service of about 150 patients a month is what board members must consider when looking at the bottom line.
"With the changes in the reimbursements with health care right now, we do have to look at services to make sure that we're keeping ourselves in a situation to be able to provide the best care to our hospitalized patients,” said Lisa King, the president of the Nacogdoches Memorial Board.
Neva Lewis, a Cushing resident and a patient at the clinic, said she's stayed out of the hospital thanks to the convenient preventive care nurse practitioner Lisa West is providing.
"For myself, my diabetes,” Lewis said. “Working with Lisa I have probably lost 50 pounds in the last year."
Photographs of doctors who served Cushing residents since around 1903 line the clinic wall. Some made house calls. There are stories that one doctor carried syringes and penicillin in his coat pocket. Patients say their hometown provider has strict rules to follow, but individual care remains in place.
"I started using Lisa on a regular basis about two or three months ago,” said Harry Zaiontz, a Cushing resident and a patient at the clinic. “The doctor I was using in Nacogdoches, it would have been a week before I could get in there."
Cushing residents aren't the only ones who turn at the flashing red light to head to the Cushing clinic. The physician assistant said that Laneville ISD busses schoolchildren here to get their annual physicals.
Shante Brewer drives from Douglass to Cushing for healthcare.
"This clinic provides help all over, outside of Cushing, and I would hate to see it go,” Brewer said. “There are so many people who need this clinic here."
Board members will decide that.
"Hospitals, clinics, everyone that deals with health care services are volume directed,” King said. “That's what they've got to have in order to provide their services."
Right now, the Etoile Care First Clinic is the only one that has officially closed by Nacogdoches Memorial Health.
King said the future of clinics in Garrison and Cushing are on the table, but right now the board has not made a final decision about the clinics' future.
An agenda for the January board meeting has not been set.