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CMC Getting Healthier by the Day

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By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – During the Tuesday, March 19 meeting of the Houston County Hospital District (HCHD), Crockett Medical Center (CMC) Administrator Tommy Johnson provided the board – along with those in attendance – with some much needed good news concerning the hospital.

“I guess everyone has been following along,” Johnson said, “but we have completed (and passed) our critical access accreditation survey. It is a daunting task believe me. I have to hand it to the staff and the crew that has handled this. They have gone through the acute care survey and then the critical access survey on top of that. Critical access is probably three times harder than the acute care.”

According to the Rural Health Information Hub website, “A Critical Access Hospital (CAH) is a designation given to eligible rural hospitals by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The CAH designation is designed to reduce the financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improve access to healthcare by keeping essential services in rural communities. To accomplish this goal, CAHs receive certain benefits, such as cost-based reimbursement for Medicare services.”

As Johnson continued, he said physician recruitment was continuing but cautioned the history of the hospital and the HCHD made it difficult in some aspects. He also informed the HCHD board the family medicine part of the hospital was now accepting walk-ins and orthopedic surgery had opened.

“Our physical and occupational therapy is up and running. Actually, the demand may require us to get another full-time therapist. We are welcoming all therapy services you can send us. Our radiology services are all finally open, except for mammography. We are waiting on the funding for the grant so we can purchase the mammography machine,” Johnson said.

The grant referred to by Johnson is a joint effort between the city of Crockett, Houston County and CMC.

Next week, the administrator said, nuclear medicine would be open in the healthcare facility which will allow the medical staff to perform chemical stress tests related to cardiac care. Also, a treadmill for physical cardiac stress tests was scheduled to arrive within the next week, Johnson said.

“Laboratory services – that’s been quite an undertaking – but we finally have that up and running. We are actually processing labs in town. Most of the clinic labs have been going out of town because they could process them quicker,” he explained.

Johnson also commented on the emergency department.

“That department has been going wide open. The volume has jumped up considerably now that people know we’re here. I think we have a great ER staff. That’s my specialty and where I came from. We have a really good set of doctors. I can’t take credit for that though – they were here when I got here. They are a great group of folks and they seem really committed to making the system work,” the hospital administrator said.

“We have also launched our neurological services. I don’t know how many of you know this, but we have a neurosurgeon who is coming to Crockett which – in a rural community – is unheard of. He is out of Waco and has several clinics. He has a satellite clinic in Huntsville and he’s wanting to bring those surgeries here. He is also going to have one (a clinic) in Lufkin at some point,” Johnson said.

The hospital census is averaging between five and six in-patients “… and we’re starting to build that clientele up,” Johnson reported.

“We are now truly loaded and in network with Blue Cross. I think Humana is the last holdout and for Medicaid – I think we are in network with all those providers. All those things are finally coming together. It has been a long process, but it’s been worth the time we’ve put in,” he concluded.

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