By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – Dick McNairy, Chief Financial Officer of Champions Healthcare, spoke briefly at the annual Grapeland Chamber of Commerce banquet Thursday, Jan. 25 regarding the forthcoming Grapeland Urgent Care Center, expected to open in late March.

“He has been instrumental in putting all this together,” said Prosperity Bank President and chamber board member Brandon Bridges. “He’s spent a lot of time in Grapeland when nobody knew he was here. He’s worked very closely with our mayor and with the folks at Nucor to instill a facility in Grapeland.”

McNairy explained that his work history includes being employed by Haliburton under Dick Chaney.

“I remember the time when he said, ‘Would you go to a small town in Oklahoma and run that particular operation?’” McNairy recalled. “That was Duncan, OK. And if any of you have ever been there, you guys are like a mirror image.”

McNairy described both Duncan and Grapeland as “a town that has maybe two gas stations and 23 churches,” as well as “fundamental values” and residents who care for one another.

“I’ve only been here a few times, and I see that in people I’ve met,” McNairy said. “That makes my job a lot easier.”

McNairy, who hails from a large city in Indiana, said he loves small towns and what the people who live there “bring to each other.

“This is going to make a good marriage, I think, when we’re here to participate with you,” he said.

McNairy explained that a partnership between Champions Healthcare, the City of Grapeland and Vulcraft was formed with the goal of bringing an urgent care facility to the city’s vacant nursing home.

“The urgent care is the most effective medical business you can be in,” explained McNairy. “We pay high premiums, high deductibles, everything in a lot of the medical parts of our country, but not in urgent care. Urgent care is where you get the best bang for the buck.”

According to McNairy, a total of 70 percent of cases requiring medical attention can be addressed in urgent care facilities.

“Our facility is only going to handle that 70 percent, but we’ve already been here long enough to arrange some relationships with the hospitals in Tyler, Lufkin and Palestine,” McNairy said. “Even though we haven’t opened the door here, they know us already.”

McNairy explained that the goal of forming these relationships is to expedite the process of helping patients receive treatment for medical issues which cannot be treated in the urgent care facility.

“We can put you in a bed in St. Luke’s in Lufkin without having to go through the ER,” said McNairy. “It saves you money. It saves you time. It could save your life.”

McNairy reported that doctors from out of town have expressed interest in traveling to Grapeland periodically to serve the community, including a Palestine surgeon.

“It’s not going to happen today, but it’s in the future,” McNairy said. “Probably near in the future.”

McNairy also spoke of plans to partner with entities offering services such as physical therapy and imaging.

“It’s exciting for us to basically be a partner in this,” he said.

Grapeland Urgent Care will be open for business as of Thursday, March 1. An open house is set for Saturday, March 24.

“We’d love for you to come and visit,” said McNairy. “We’ll do tours of the facility, and you’ll meet some of the medical doctors that are in our group.”

Hamburgers and hotdogs will be served during the event, which will also feature activities for children.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity,” McNairy finished.

Sarah Naron may be reached via email at snaron@messenger-news.com.