CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - The past 17 days have been difficult for Crockett area residents looking for healthcare.
The Crockett Clinic opened its doors for the first time this morning for the first time since Little River Healthcare close Timberlands Hospital at the end of June due to financial issues.
"We have been a clinic here for 50 years," Dr. Christopher Haeckler said. "We were only managed by Little River for three months. When they announced they were closing, we had to shut down and make sure we got all of our accounts back opened in our name, so we could operate."
The clinic does primary care and can see people of all ages. They are currently working on getting permits back to do X-rays as well. The shock still has not worn off.
"It's like running into a brick wall," Haeckler said. "One minute everything is okay, and then the next, you are being called over to the hospital and being told that you are getting shut down. We are very fortunate that we could go back to work, but the community is pulling together the best they can."
The clinic being opened was good news to George Gale, who brought his wife for an early afternoon appointment. The couple lives in a subdivision on Houston County Lake and just driving to Crockett takes 20 minutes. Gale is concerned that it will only get worse the longer the city goes without a hospital.
"We have to go to Palestine, Lufkin, or Nacogdoches," Gale said. "Elderly people are just not in shape to drive over there, and some can't drive it. They have to have a hospital here."
Inside the hospital, it is quiet. There is very little activity except for a dentist office and a foot doctor that operate as private practices. Crockett Dental Care has been inside the hospital building for 17 years. The closure came as a shock for them. Everyday, the staff still goes outside at noon to pray for a resolution. It is a practice that started the day after the closure was announced.
"We know we are going to have healthcare," said Office Manager Laura Holcomb. "We don't know what shape or form that is going to be, but we know we need it and that God will provide."
Inside the office, just like at business across the county, a coin jar is set up to collect change that will be donated to the Houston County Hospital Board with expenses they now have.
"We had a 25-year lease with Little River," Holcomb said. "We did not think about having to do fund-raising efforts. Now the board has expenses they did not think about like yard work and attorney fees."
As the days count on, someone has left a message on the sign that once said Timberlands. It is a message to help people remember the struggle facing the community. It is a sign that simply reads, "Keep Hope Alive." Holcomb smiled when she thought about the sign.
People can donate to the fundraising effort by dropping off funds at: The Grapeland Messenger, Twisted Sister, Lucky Cleaner, Knox Furniture, The Houston County Courier, The Moosehead Cafe, Davy Crockett Drug, Crockett Dental Care, The Houston County CO-OP, Mike's Corner Store, Lovelady State Bank, and Prosperity Bank.