Hospital Troubles in Sabine County?

by Larry Little

Only about 1100 people live in Hemphill. The small town is thankful to have a hospital. "I think we are very fortunate and blessed. This hospital has been here 27 years, operating in the black and that's unusual for a rural hospital especially in East Texas," says Susan Cowgill.

But some people living here in Sabine County fear the hospital will have to close after changes made by board members. "My worst fear is if the hospital eventually closes due to the steps they are taking so far. The average citizen is over 60 years old here in this county. They've got to have healthcare. If we start to lose the senior citizens, I start to lose my market," says Cowgill.

Susan Cowgill is a certified audiologist.   Her business depends mainly on hearing impaired senior citizens. She's among many people in the community worried about changes some board members made to reduce ambulance services in Sabine County. Thursday night concerned residents packed the Sabine County Courthouse, holding signs, sending strong messages to three hospital board members. At times the meeting got out of control and there was even bickering between board members.

In the end a majority of board members decided to fire Sabine County Hospital Director Edith McCauley.   Many people fear the hospital will now lose its Medicaid and Medicare certification, but they will have to live with the decision until their day in court.

McCauley held the job for 27 years.  She is expected to file suit.