I have wondered for quite a while why Somervell County taxpayers are footing the bill for gated community Pecan Plantation's Pecan Family Medical Center. When Glen Rose Medical Center was a private hospital, where they opted to open up a clinic was their business, as presumably we were not paying any part of their costs. GRMC tried to get that government help for building out the GRMC hospital and got the commissioners court to vote for giving taxpayer money to private entity GRMC. GRMC was supposed to start paying it back, but lo and behold, when they couldn't get taxpayers to vote in a hospital district that would tax them, they gave up control to Somervell County, which created a *Hospital Authority*. The appointed people on that board answered to.. themselves? No, to the commissioners court. When GRMC needed money to pay their doctors or tried to get more money to get a loan to spend fixing up Pecan some more, or had a shortfall in their funds, they had to come to the Somervell County Commissioners Court. At one point, I think Mike Ford wanted to spare them the embarrassment of having to come in every month or so, and they all agreed they would *settle up* at the end of each year. At no point after GRMC was run by the appointed Hospital Authority did the issue of whether Somervell County residents wanted their taxpayer money going into another county (which has its own hospital district) come up in commissioners court. Certainly when the hospital district election came up again, this issue would be front and center, yes? And in fact, it was, and the people pushing the district justified this outflow of taxpayer money by saying that it brings in significant revenue to the hospital. (Am not even touching, in this post, whether GRMC might be spending tax payer dollars outside the county in the other direction, in Bosque County).
Here are some pieces of information obtained through open records (request made by me to Sharla Collins on May 13, 2013) regarding YOUR money being spent in Pecan Plantation. Keep in mind that you yourself cannot use that clinic. Have verified with the Pecan Family Medical Center that unless you are a resident of Pecan Plantation and thus can buzz yourself in the gate, you aren't allowed in. You need to keep your riff raff taxpaying self in Ole Somervell County where you belong while the rich people pat themselves on the back as they ride their golf carts around that they are benefactors. (Feelings of largesse go great with prime rib)
1. All payments made for the leased property for Pecan Family Medical Center by GRMC/SCHA for the years 2010-current date (May 13, 2013). This to include not only space leased by GRMC/SCHA for doctor visits but also for xray and lab equipment. PDF
2. Copy of lease agreement made between Glen Rose Medical Center/Somervell County Hospital Authority and the building owners/leasers of the space at Pecan Family Medical Center, dated after the creation of the Somervell Hospital Authority Board in October 2009. PDF
I had been told by the CEO of Lake Granbury that the reason CHS is not in Pecan Plantation is because GRMC has an exclusive lease arrangement with Pecan Properties. And in fact, that is the case. p 6 "Medical Clinic Tenant will have exclusive use as a Medical Center in this center". Where are all the free market apologists? The lease was modified on September 25, 2009, rent went up. The addendum to the lease shows this lease expires on October 31, 2015. It appears that Gary Marks was the signatory to the updated lease in March 2010.
3. All expenses made for Pecan Family Medical Center to include building or decorative improvements, cost of doctors, physician assistants, nurses and other medical personnel for the time period 2010-current date (May 13, 2013) PDF
4. Any payments made for any loans which benefited either building/decorative improvements at Pecan Family Medical Center or were spent to support a physician, physician assistant, nurse, or other medical personnel. PDF
You were aware that GRMC took out a loan specifically to fix up Pecan Family Medical Center?
5. Schedule for doctors/nurses/other medical personnel when available at Pecan Family Medical Center, to include the names of the personnel so used for the years 2010 –current date (May 13, 2013)PDF
6. Current value and list of all xray and diagnostic equipment that GRMC/SCHA owns that is currently being used at the Xray/Lab room at Pecan Family Medical Center as of current date 5/13/2013.PDF
I also wondered about 2 other things. Hood County has its own hospital district. The residents there do NOT pay any hospital district tax. The reason is that because Hood County has such a deal with CHS that is running a for-profit hospital, they don't charge the residents. Now, they do have a hospital district and CAN, legally, charge them, so it's interesting to note that they do not. I have heard, but have not attempted to verify, that Lake Granbury Medical Center is profitable. So the question that came up was, well, Hood County has a hospital district, but they operate clinics in Somervell County, how can they do that? It's actually because it's the same type of situation that led Glen Rose Medical Center to open a clinic in Pecan in the first place... because the hospital corporation is a private entity with a LEASE with Hood County. That is, of course, no longer the case with Glen Rose Medical Center, which decided to be on the pubilc dole. I have selected parts of both the hospital district paperwork PDF as well as part of the lease agreement between CHS and Hood County. PDF (The entire thing can be seen through open records in Hood County in Granbury.) Note Section 286.029 Overlapping Districts which is part of Hood County's definition. "(a) If the terrority in one or more district overlaps, the commissioners court in which the most recently created district is located by order shall exclude the overlapping territory from that district". Pecan is located in Hood County; if an argument could be made that part of Somervell County is in Pecan Plantation, this provision shows that it would be part of Somervell County, but it would definitely not include the Pecan Family Medical Center which is definitely located in Hood County, in Hood County's Hospital District. ... That is, if you could even get to it since you would have to get through that gated community.
There is another issue with this besides the spending of taxpayer money, first, without permission of taxpayers by the Hospital Authority board and lack of action by the commissioners, and second, by a district that is spending money in another district where those people don't even pay any taxes themselves. And that is whether people agree that the rich should be able to have taxmoney spent on them in exchange for the hope that, through such artifices as "exclusive leases", that money will go to support a taxpayer supported entity. A lot of the people who most loudly gripe about government taxation, including spending on poor people, infrastructure, libraries and other public services, are the first in line if they see an opportunity to get a handout for their own business or project.
Let's get to it. If GRMC cannot operate a hospital at the scale, with taxpayer funds from Somervell County residents and those that may come to Somervell County from outside the county, that they would like, then perhaps they should lower their expectations. Is there anything really objectionable to, say, contracting with a private hospital to provide services? That surely would be satisfactory to those who believe that hospitals should be competitive (and GRMC having an exclusive lease in Hood County where there is already a hospital district is not). Or, suppose that GRMC had to scale down what it offers to emergency services, run entirely by taxpayer dollars. GRMC already sends people via ambulance (car or heli) to other area hospitals in Fort Worth, so that would not be different. There also is not a lack of hospitals within about 25 miles 3 directions from Glen Rose. And, going to Fort Worth or Waco, there are additional large hospitals, such as Harris Methodist or Scott & White within a reasonable number of miles.
And if it is really true that over 50 percent of revenues keeping GRMC afloat come from Pecan Plantation (well, sort of is, because it still isn't clear that they are actually breaking even), then without that 50 percent, what does that really say about how the hospital runs and how large it should actually be?
Despite the Hospital District PAC trying to scare people into saying that GRMC would CLOSE, we already know that that is not true. Every single county commissioner has said they would NOT close the hospital. But does that mean that GRMC can operate like a government taxpayer funded Money Pit? Or that they might have to scale down. I haven't looked recently but it would be interesting to see how many of the people who work at GRMC actually live in Somervell County. Certainly, less people working there would impact business that did, say, lunch. Glen Rose is a tourism and nuclear power plant community. I see nothing wrong with scaling down expectations of just how large, extensive and expensive the hospital needs to be. As I've said before, we don't live on the moon or West Texas, where finding available health services might necessitate a longer drive than going to one of 4 hospitals (to include Glen Rose) in the immediate neighborhood.