CMC COVID-19 Update Given
By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Hospital District (HCHD) is continuing to work its way out of debt, as evidenced by the strong possibility of a settlement with the Texas Higher Education Board (THEB).
During a meeting of the HCHD Board of Directors held on Tuesday, Sept. 21, those in attendance were informed by HCHD Board President Barbara Crowson that it appeared the hospital district’s Negotiations Committee had reached a settlement agreement to repay $125,000 instead of an owed amount of $203,000.
After disposing of several other matters, Crowson explained the board had made an offer several months ago to settle the debt.
“We made an initial offer of $85,000. We waited and waited and they finally countered with an offer of $146,000,” she said.
Once the Negotiations Committee – comprised of Crowson, Carol Dawson and Dina Pipes – received the counter offer, Crowson said they discussed the matter and countered the counter offer with an amount of $115,000.
Crowson said the THEB countered once again and this time made an offer to accept a settlement for $125,000. She added the committee recommended we approving the $125,000, but cautioned there was stipulation to the agreement. The stipulation was if the HCHD received any monies from the Little River bankruptcy case, that money would go towards clearing the remainder of the debt, up to $203,000.
A motion was made, seconded and unanimously approved to pay the $125,00 once all the legal procedures had been completed.
Prior to the settlement discussions, the board president provided the board with an update on Crockett Medical Center (CMC). Crowson explained she had recently talked with Tommy Johnson, the CMC CEO, who, she said, was sticking very close to the hospital.
“He explained to me this time around – with COVID – is much tougher than the first wave. The staff is very tired and he is too. It was clear in his voice. He said they were sticking with it and if you read the headlines, they say it is going to subside. Unfortunately, according to him, not so much in this area,” Crowson said.
She continued, “He explained we are in a health care region (Region G) – and on each side of us in another region – he said in those regions, it isn’t getting any better. He said last week if you needed a COVID bed, you would have had to go Las Cruces, NM for one and South Dakota for another. They are just not there. He pointed out that last week in Houston County, only 29.8 percent or maybe more now, are vaccinated. The state average is up to 58.7 percent.”
Crowson went on to say the CMC licensure process was complete and all deficiencies had been or were being addressed.
Also, during the meeting, Cassie Gallaway, the Operation Supervisor at Houston County EMS, provided the monthly ambulance report.
“Obviously, we are still seeing a lot of COVID patients. They have completely overrun most of the other calls. Normally, we run a lot of coronary, neurological and respiratory calls. Now, it is all COVID. We had 308 requests for service in the month of August. WE transported 192 of those and 87 percent went to Crockett Medical Center. The only thing we are taking out of Houston County right now are cardiac patients who need a Cath lab and transfers. All the hospitals around us are on divert so we are not able to take patients there. It’s bad right now. We flew 11 patients and we were requested for mutual aid by ESD 1 eight times,” she said.
Gallaway went on to say Houston County EMS had been asked to participate in a pilot program called ET3. The program would allow for the EMS crews to provide mobile tele-health services for those patients who qualified.
“We can actually call a board-certified physician and they can evaluate the patient, along with us, while we are at the site. It’s basically like Facetime. The doctor can actually see the patient face-to-face, evaluate them and make the decision on whether the patient needs to be transferred to an ER. The doctor is even able to write prescriptions and send them to the pharmacy, while you are on the scene,” she said.
A motion to provide non-monetary support for the ET3 pilot program was approved by a margin of six in favor, none against and two abstentions.
In other matters brought before the HCHD Board:
- The minutes of meetings held on Aug. 17 and Aug. 31 were approved as presented.
- The district’s financial report for the month of August was approved.
- The amended budget for 2020-2021 was adopted.
- The fixed asset review was postponed until the hospital reopens.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].