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HCHD Approves Changes to Indigent Care Agreement

Photo by Sarah Naron/ Messenger

By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – During a special meeting held Tuesday, Oct. 23, the Houston County Hospital District reexamined an agreement between itself and Crockett Medical Center (CMC) regarding indigent and uncompensated care.

Shortly after the commencement of the meeting, the board adjourned into executive session to discuss the matter with its attorney. Upon the completion of the executive session, Board Chairman Robert Grier, PhD., called for a motion to accept an amended version of the agreement.

A motion was made and seconded before Dina Pipes, one of the board’s two most recently elected members, voiced her opposition, citing “several reasons” for her decision.

“The first reason is that we didn’t see this amendment until we got into executive session, so I really haven’t had a chance to totally read it,” she explained. “I’m voting against it because the board has paid money to have these agreements written up, and everyone should have read them and know what they say.”

As Pipes pointed out, the agreement has already undergone previous changes.

“We’ve already changed the agreement from Jan. 16, 2018 to Aug. 1, 2018,” she said. “We gave up seven months of rent – which was $700,000 – to them.”

Pipes also brought up the widespread belief that the officials behind Crockett Medical Center opened the hospital “in good faith.

“Yes, they did, but we’ve been down that road of good faith before, and you know what happened with Timberlands,” she said. “I’m not saying they are Timberlands, but we’ve got to make sure they’re not.”

Pipes went on to remind the board members that it is their duty to maintain “financial oversight of the taxpayers’ money.

“That’s what Rhonda (Brown) and I were elected for,” she said. “Rhonda and I have never seen any financial documents on CMC. We don’t have any idea what they can or can’t pay. Granted, it’s their business, but they’re in a multimillion dollar contract with us, and we need to know something.”

Pipes also expressed her belief that “a good business reason” should be provided by CMC before changes to the agreement are approved by the board.

Brown joined Pipes in voicing her opposition to the proposed amendments. The motion to approve the amended agreement passed 7-2.

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