Keeping Hope Alive

HCHD Enters into Negotiations with Hospital Provider

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – An eleventh hour deal just may save the now vacant hospital in Houston County after it was announced during a meeting held on Monday night, Oct. 30, the Houston County Hospital District (HCHD) will enter into negotiations with an organization to manage the healthcare facility.

Following a 40-minute executive session, the HCHD Board of Directors emerged from behind closed doors.

Once the meeting was reconvened, HCHD President Deborah Blackwell made an announcement about the hospital’s future.

“During our regular meeting on Oct. 10, presentations were made in executive session by Crockett Healthcare Partnership, CHRISTUS Healthcare and CHI. The board evaluated the proposals and based on the evaluation, the most favorable proposal was the one presented by the Crockett Healthcare Partnership, a physician based group out of Austin,” she said.

Blackwell recommended forming a committee to “… enter into negotiations with Crockett Healthcare Partnership. All of these proposals were based on community support, which makes the Nov.7 vote to uncap the tax rate even more important.”

In addition, Blackwell reminded all of those present about a $300,000 grant from the TLL Temple Foundation contingent on the outcome of the Nov. 7 election.

HCHD Vice President Dr. John Stovall made a motion to authorize Blackwell to appoint a committee to enter into negotiations with Crockett Healthcare Partnership. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved.

The committee will be comprised of: Blackwell; Dr. Robert Grier; Jim Dowell; and either Dr. John Stovall or Barbara Crowson, depending on availability.

Following the meeting Blackwell said she would be preparing a statement for release in the next day or two but stressed “… the most important thing is they are willing to reopen the hospital and in a fairly short timeframe. They are hoping to reopen within six weeks.”

She also said she would be talking with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services to make sure all the statutory requirements had been met and fulfilled by the HCHD.

“It’s a step in the right direction. I know the six week goal is a little optimistic and if it were me, I would say by the end of the year,” she said. “We’re just now entering into negotiations and we have a lot of work to do.”

During the Oct. 10 meeting of the HCHD board, Crockett Healthcare was represented by principal investors Dr. Subir Chhikara and Dr. Kelly E. Tjelmeland.  Dr. Chhikara is a board certified urologist in Austin. He is affiliated with Seton Medical Center Austin, Seton Northwest Hospital and Seton Southwest Hospital.

Dr. Tjelmeland is a Board Certified plastic surgeon and the founding partner of Meridian Plastic Surgery Center. He received both his medical degree and subsequent general surgery and plastic surgery training at Baylor College of Medicine at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.

In other matters brought before the board, Kathi Calvert was selected to fill the vacancy on the HCHD Board of Directors created with the resignation of Tommy Driskell. Calvert is the General Manager of the Houston County Electric Co-op.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

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