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HCHD Presented with Indigent Care Numbers

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By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Hospital District (HCHD) Board of Directors met in their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday evening, April 20.

After routine matters had been disposed of, HCHD Board President Barbara Crowson informed the board members, Crockett Medical Center (CMC) CEO Tommy Johnson had a previous engagement and would not be able to attend Tuesday’s meeting. As a result, Crowson said she would provide the quarterly hospital report.

“It is for January, February and March 2021. I want to explain the figures on indigent care. As you are aware, this board pays $165,000 a month for indigent care. What you are looking at is the total that was expended for indigent care. As you can see in January of 2021, our $165,000 almost covered the indigent care. Mr. Johnson tells me that for whatever reason, since the COVID-19 pandemic, that has gone down. In the past it has been more than that and sometimes substantially more,” she said.

“In February 2021,” Crowson continued, “they wrote off indigent care for $168,444.97. They are required by law – when someone comes in for a procedure or to the emergency room – to send them a notice of their bill within 48 hours and they do so. As you can, there is not a response.”

The HCHD Board President also indicated the notices were also sent to the Grapeland Hospital District but Johnson had previously indicated he had not received any reply.

“If you look at March of 2021, they wrote off indigent of $175,388.98. The quarterly total for indigent care for our hospital was $509,868.57. As I said, he (Johnson) tells me that is down some. HE also tells me the indigent care patients coming here from the Grapeland Hospital District are running $10 to $12,000 which is down since COVID-19 when it was running about $15,000 or so,” she said.

Changing gears, Crowson reported there were 78 surgery patients for the first quarter of 2021, with 168 in-patient days. There were also 3,311 out-patient encounters.

The next committee report to be presented was the ambulance report. It showed 306 requests for service, with 197 transports, 31 cancellations and 78 non-transports. There were also 11 patients who utilized the air ambulance service.

The transport destination chart showed 70 percent of patients were taken to CMC, 13 percent were taken to Palestine Regional, eight percent were taken to Woodland Heights, six percent were taken to Huntsville and three percent of patients were taken to CHI Lufkin.

Following the ambulance report, Crowson said the HCHD had met with the Grapeland Hospital District about helping to pay for the ambulance service because of service calls within the Grapeland district. 

“They listened politely, but we never received a response of any kind. I did call back to the president of their board but never got a response. Our ambulance service philosophy is they are not going to refuse someone a trip just because they don’t live in the Houston County Hospital District,” Crowson said.

In other matters brought before the HCHD Board of Directors:

  • Minutes of the March 23 meeting were approved.
  • The district’s financial report for March was approved as presented.
  • No action was taken on ambulance debt owed to Houston County.

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

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