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Healthcare Needs Focus Group Meeting Set July 20 in Grapeland

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By Cheril Vernon

Messenger Copy Editor

GRAPELAND – Though it’s unrelated to the timing of Crockett’s Timberlands Healthcare hospital closing, the Sam Houston State University School of Nursing will hold a focus group meeting in Grapeland later this month, concerning local healthcare needs and accessibility in the community.

Researchers from both the School of Nursing and the Center for Rural Studies at Sam Houston State University will host the focus group at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 20 at the Grapeland Senior Citizens Center, located at 112 Church St. in Grapeland.

“This is something that has been in the works for about two years. It’s kind of serendipitous that it happened now,” Dr. Shannon M. Lane with the SHSU School of Nursing told The Messenger recently. “We are in the process of applying for a federal grant to get a mobile medical clinic. We are trying to determine how we can access this population or any kinds of activities that may be served by a mobile unit.”

Specifically, the mobile medical clinic, if approved, would provide different types of free cancer screenings for a five-county area, made up of Houston, Grimes, Trinity, San Jacinto and Walker counties.

“We are applying for the grant through the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas,” Lane said.

The results of this focus group will be used to help SHSU’s School of Nursing and the Center for Rural Studies assess healthcare needs in the local area as well as potentially develop programs to meet those needs.

“At the designated focus group, we will be speaking to Houston County community leaders and citizens such as yourself in order to receive various impressions regarding how you and others feel about local health care in your community. We would specifically like to talk with you about your perspectives regarding health care needs, facilities, provider services, clinic access, and barriers to quality healthcare at the local level,” a SHSU’s School of Nursing news release said.

The focus group session is expected to last approximately one hour and 15 minutes.

“You are not required to answer questions that you find uncomfortable or too personal during the focus group, however your feedback is pivotal in informing future decisions regarding local health care in your community,” the news release stated.

While other focus group sessions are expected in the other four counties SHSU’s School of Nursing is focusing on in the future, Lane was unsure if more than one focus meeting would be held in Houston County.

“We are expecting a crowd in Grapeland,” Lane said. “It depends on what kind of information we collect in Grapeland, if we have enough information for our application process on whether we will need to hold more than one focus group there.”

For more information about the focus group, call Lane at 936-294-4380 or Dr. Anne Stiles at 936-294-2369, or send an email to slane@shsu.edu or axs072@shsu.edu. For questions regarding research ethics, contact Sharla Miles at 936-294-4875 or by e-mail at sharla_miles@shsu.edu.

Little River Healthcare, the managing healthcare organization of Timberlands Healthcare, ended its affiliation with the Crockett hospital, effective June 30. The first notice of the closure became public knowledge on June 22 when Little River Healthcare informed its employees it was severing its ties based on the financial circumstances of the hospital due to significant losses each month.

In a Thursday, June 22 phone conversation with LRH Co-Owner and Chief Legal Officer (CLO) Ryan Downton, the CLO explained a determining factor in the LRH decision was the struggle the company was having with collection of monies owed on insurance claims submitted to Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The hospital closing led to the loss of jobs for close to 200 employees