Grayson Co. Leaders Plan For New Health Clinic - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Grayson Co. Leaders Plan For New Health Clinic

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SHERMAN, TX -- County leaders say the poor and uninsured often go to the emergency room for medical treatment, but a new plan to create a health clinic could change that.

County officials will partner with two hospitals to submit the plan to the state of Texas, under a Health and Human Services program called a 1115 Waiver that would change how Medicaid patients are treated. They hope it will yield big results for the poor, uninsured, and the two hospitals.

Grayson County Health Department director John Teel says the new health clinic would be targeted to 20,000 county residents with Medicaid and 25,000 who have no insurance at all.

"Many of the uninsured simply don't feel like they can go to a local physician, so for even minor maladies, sore throats and colds and flu, they will go to the emergency room," Teel says.

"You look at the numbers, you look at the amount of money that the hospitals in the county lose in the abuse of the emergency room, there's a big problem," says County Judge Drue Bynum.

Both hospitals see plenty of these poor patients. At Texoma Medical Center, the average is 30 a day. "We are seeing about 22 percent of our patients in the emergency room are self pay, the indigent population, and it's not the best place for them to get care, we're trying to re-direct that to a clinic," says hospital chief financial officer Gerard Hebert.

"We'll be able to provide better access to care to our indigent and underinsured patients by them having a medical home through this new facility," says Texas Health Presbyterian-WNJ business development vice-president Kitty Richardson.

The new clinic would be located at an old medical building at 1111 Gallagher Drive in Sherman, which would be donated by WNJ at a reduced rent. The Texoma Health Foundation has also donated $300,000 and will be part of the project, Bynum says.

"Any county that will put up money only has to put up 40 percent of the cost of the project, and the other 60 percent will be provided by the federal government," says Teel.

The financial arrangements are complicated and still under development, but officials say the project is well on its way. "It'll be one way to help the indigent but it will also be a fully fledged top-notch health clinic," says Bynum.

The clinic would have a doctor and several nurses and assistants. The project would involve $2 million the county already uses for indigent care and a $3 million match from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The hospitals would help fund the clinic startup and $1.4 million annual budget and receive some of the federal money, Teel says.

First, the plan needs to be approved by county commissioners and the Health and Human Services Commission. If the plan is approved, the clinic could open by June.