Growth Continues for Grapeland in 2018

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – Given the current state of health care in Houston County, the importance of opening a medical facility in the oldest county in Texas cannot be overstated.

With the aforementioned real-time scenario as a backdrop, the city of Grapeland scored a coup of sorts when it was announced an urgent care facility would be opened at the former nursing home facility located on Church Street in Grapeland.

On Thursday afternoon, Jan. 4 – Dick McNairy and Joe Tumalad, NP (nurse practitioner) – stopped by The Messenger offices to discuss the planned medical facility.

McNairy, the Chief Financial Officer of STAT Care, which is affiliated with Rose-Rich EM Physicians, provided a brief background on the company.

“Rose-Rich EM Physicians is a partnership in Houston that manages ERs as well as urgent care facilities. In 2016, we actually purchased Joe’s (Tumalad) business – Champions Urgent Care in North Houston – and we have been running that facility since March of 2016,” said.

“Joe is actually retiring, to some extent, and wanted to move to this area. He has now renovated his retirement into establishing an urgent care (facility) around here because when he got to this area he found there was a need. There’s is nothing in the area (medical wise),” he explained.

McNairy said he and Tumalad were introduced to Grapeland Mayor Balis Dailey as well as Grapeland Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) President C. L. McGill and GEDC Board Member Wayland Woolsey.

“They said they would like to lease the old nursing home facility, if they could renovate it, and allow us to be the first tenant,” McNairy explained. “At the same time, they said they wanted to introduce us to the major employer in town, Vulcraft.”

The CFO revealed after meeting with the Vulcraft representatives, a medical services agreement with the steel manufacturer was agreed upon.

“At the same time, it will be an open center that will take walk-in traffic from the county as well. We have made agreements with Vulcraft and with the city, in the form of a lease. We are looking for a March 1 opening and we are going to do an open house on Saturday, March 24,” McNairy said.

He explained Tumalad is a nurse practitioner “… who would be the primary provider at the facility which will operate from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday with an on-call provision of who to call after hours.”

The facility, according to McNairy, will have the capability to do X-rays, lab work and will have an urgent care profile.

“This excludes anything major. We will try and get affiliation with hospitals simply to have relationships specialists which will allow us to expedite the process of getting patients to hospital beds,” McNairy said.

The facility will be known as Grapeland Urgent Care but will legally be a part of Champions Urgent Care because Champions currently holds all the required license and tax information. Over the facility’s first year, the name will be legally changed as the transition from Champions to Grapeland Urgent Care occurs.

As the discussion continued, Tumalad said he was initially attracted to the East Texas area because of cheap land prices.

“The land here in East Texas is still cheap. I looked around and saw Wayland Woolsey had an ad in the Houston Chronicle. I called him and asked how much did he want for the land. I went out and visited with him personally and saw the land. When he found out I was a nurse practitioner, he said, ‘Wait a minute. We are looking for someone to start a clinic here. Are you interested?’” Tumalad said.

The nurse practitioner said he was interested and a meeting was set up with the mayor. He said he contacted McNairy about the opportunity “… because I really didn’t want to start my own business again. That was the reason I got out of this and sold my business to them. That’s a lot of responsibility and all I really wanted to do was see patients.”

Tumalad is an RN and family nurse practitioner with more than 20 years of experience in the emergency room and critical care. He is board certified as a family nurse practitioner as well as in advanced cardiac life support, pediatric life support and basic life support. He has a master’s degree in science and has lived most of his life in the Houston area.

McNairy added while they would be the first tenants of the former nursing home facility, the Grapeland mayor had expressed an interest in possibly converting the unoccupied space into “… a complete medical set-up for this area.”

According to sources with first-hand knowledge of the transaction between the city and the urgent care provider, the Grapeland Hospital District was not involved in the negotiating or decision making process.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.