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HCHD Shows Spirit of Cooperation

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By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Hospital District (HCHD) Board of Directors did something on Thursday, June 27 which they haven’t done in quite some time. They actually treated each other with a modicum of respect and showed a spirit of cooperation.

The special, Thursday evening meeting was called to order at 5:30 p.m. by Board President Barbara Crowson who quickly moved the board into the actionable item portion of the agenda.

The first item of business was a discussion about possible improvements to the ambulance building. The HCHD ambulance committee chair – Dina Pipes – said committee member Erin Ford had put the improvements out for bid. Ford had a prior commitment and was unable to attend the meeting.

“He did get two bids. One was for $10,100 and the other is for $9,000. Neither one can go inside, between the roof and the ceiling. That would be entirely too expensive. What they are going to do is go on top of the roof with a reflective coating. It is the same company that replaced the roof on the courthouse and has a 30-year warranty. We are going with that one, if it meets with everyone’s approval. The estimated cost is around $9,000,” Pipes said.

A motion was made, seconded and unanimously approved to go forward with the $9,000 bid.

The next agenda item concerned the repayment of a debt to CHRISTUS – Trinity Mother Frances. Pat Dickey, chair of the HCHD finance committee said it had been determined to make CHRISTUS an offer comprised of “… a lump sum of $50,000 and then a monthly payment of $10,000.” CHRISTUS is aware of the $50,000, although nothing is in writing, they firmly agreed to that and we think they will agree to the $10,000 per month, although that has not been said to CHRISTUS.”

Dickey further said once both parties had agreed on the terms, the payment schedule would be in effect for a year – until June of 2020 – at which time the HCHD “… would like to discuss this with them again because there is a possibility we will have a little more money and we might be able to pay the debt off sooner on a monthly basis.”

The measure was unanimously approved.

Following the debt discussion, the hospital’s physical plant took center stage, specifically the building’s air conditioner units.

Harvey Bruner, on the HCHD’s building committee, said “We have two 25-ton units and one 20-ton unit. The 20-ton unit is working. The 25-ton units – one is not working and will cost $25,000 to replace it. The other is working at about half and it will cost about $10,000 to fix it.”

Bruner indicated while the exact estimate was $34,221 he believed it might be possible to lower the cost.

Bruner asked Hospital Administrator Tommy Johnson if it was him who had mentioned a possible AC unit which might be available.

“There is a builder who has one for sale that was originally meant for this building, back when one of the other companies was here. It is sitting now with the builder and they can’t go anywhere else with it because it was kind of a custom fit for here. I’ll be happy to call and see how inexpensive this would be compared to the other new ones. It’s a new one. It sat there for a year and a half because they didn’t get to put it here,” Johnson said.

As the discussion continued about the HCHD paying for the AC replacement/repair, board member Rhonda Brown pointed out the agreement between the HCHD and Crockett Medical Center (CMC) stated after six months from the opening of the hospital, this type of issue was responsibility of CMC.

“I have the agreement right here and the agreement states once a six month period has passed (from the opening of CMC), they were responsible for these repairs. If we start doing one here, where do we draw the line? When do we say the six month period has passed? This is your responsibility, you must take care of it (referring to CMC),” Brown said.

Crowson replied, “As you know, we thought at the July meeting on the 16th, we would be looking to amendments to the lease. However, I have been informed the lease amendment recommendations would not be ready in July so now it would be August. I’m aware of what the original lease said but I thought I explained it by saying it was a gesture of good will because those units were so old that we want to do our part. I hear what you are saying. Is there a stopping place. Yes, I think there is a stopping place.”

After a few more minutes of conversation, a motion to expend the $34,221 to fix the AC units was made. The motion was seconded and the vote showed the measure passed by a 4-3 margin.

Brown requested her objections be noted in the minutes and Crowson said they would be and moved the meeting to the final agenda item which concerned the approval of a “salvage” donation to Latexo High School’s Health Occupations Program.

While the board was more than agreeable to the proposal, it was determined a complete list of items must be finalized and a price assigned to each items.

Because Latexo ISD and the HCHD are both taxing entities, several legal steps must be taken to stay in compliance with the law. Following a brief discussion, the matter was tabled for further study.

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