Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital accepting Shelby Medical Center patients

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - At noon Thursday the second round of closure at Shelby Regional Medical Center came. The emergency room closed at noon. The owner's inability to meet Medicare and Medicaid funding guidelines led to a loss in reimbursements.

Now pressure is placed on hospitals in other counties to care for Shelby County's sick, including their indigent or non paying residents.

Tammy Hanson is the trauma coordinator at Nacogdoches County Memorial Hospital, but she's a Shelby County native. Suddenly, the reassurance of prompt care from the hospital where she was born and later worked has ended.

"My entire family lives there," said Hanson who commutes from Timpson to Nacogdoches. "I have my grandparents, my parents, my brothers, nieces and nephews. That is their primary health care that they don't have a resource for anymore."

The Nacogdoches emergency room has always treated patients region wide. Now it's seeing even more from Shelby County.

"I don't expect any great influx," said ER director Robert Y'Barbo. "We'll probably see more from the nursing homes shipped directly. We'll probably see more of their emergencies or traumas transferred directly since they won't be going to the facility there."

Hospitals region wide, in Nacogdoches, Carthage, San Augustine and Lufkin, will benefit from the paying customer.

"We all have lower volumes right now," said Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital interim administrator Beth Knight. "That is one thing hurting the health care industry. So yes, we would definitely like to have more people come to our facility, whether it is from Shelby or other counties."

The financial concern is treatment for the indigents from outlying counties. There is no reimbursement for non resident indigents at most hospitals, including Nacogdoches County Memorial. So who ends up paying?

"Nacogdoches County residents do," explained Nacogdoches County Memorial Hospital board member Lisa King. "It's tied to our sales tax that the hospital gets because we do not levy property taxes, but we have no means to bill that county for the care of their residents."

Hanson knows no hospital will turn anyone away based on their income. She also realizes health care in her home of Shelby County is vitally needed.

"They definitely need a health care system to take care of their community. I hope something opens," said Hanson, who now knows at any minute a Shelby County neighbor could come through Memorial Hospital's ER doors.

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

The East Texas News has learned regional leaders are looking at a branch of a larger hospital to possibly come in, but the discussion is in the very early stages.

An effort to seek a pre-arrangement for indigent care reimbursement from Shelby County is also a possibility.

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