Would cost of ER equal need?
Jul 28, 2014 | 595 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print

As a concerned property owner and taxpayer in Goliad County, I am still waiting to know the status of the proposed new EMS station/DeTar ER.

On Feb. 24, 2014, at commissioners court, an agenda item was presented about the possibility of beginning a partnership with DeTar Hospital and the county for a 24-hour emergency room. In attendance were representatives of DeTar – Bill Blanchard, CEO and Lisa Price, Head of Emergency and Trauma – as they had been approached by Judge Bowman and Peggy Fonseca about this venture.

Ms. Price stated that DeTar would be interested, but stressed the fact (three times) that the land, building and all equipment would be owned by the County of Goliad and leased by DeTar Hospital. The ER would have to be furnished with all the necessary equipment, such as CAT scan, sonography and full lab. The ER would need everything available to be able to be an accredited facility. The ER would be staffed and run by DeTar physicians and nurses and all related personnel.

Ms. Price said that their intent was not to take any patients away from the local doctors, but to be an added resource. She stated that if a patient was seen and determined to be a non-emergency, the patient would be discharged and referred to their family physician.

If a patient was determined to need a higher level of care than the ER could provide, the patient would be stabilized and transferred to the hospital via EMS ambulance. So it seems that this would limit their patients to minor emergencies, such as simple fractures and stitching wounds.

I find it hard to believe that this facility would generate enough income to function, much less repay the county. I am also worried about the county being left with the responsibility of non-paid bills by patients that won’t pay DeTar for their visit to the ER. I know DeTar will do the billing, but when they cannot collect, who then does the unpaid bill fall on? It is a matter of not if, but when, DeTar does not make a profit, they will close up and leave, just like they did when they had a clinic here.

When the county judge was asked by an audience member what the cost of building this EMS/ER facility would be, he replied “a ballpark estimate would be four to five million.” Of course, this would include a heli-pad and a new EMS station. I’m thinking that is a very low estimation.

I’m afraid that Goliad County would be stuck with a very expensive and quite possibly unused, fully equipped ER building, plus a huge debt. On the bright side though, Ms. Fonseca would get her new EMS station that she has been wanting.

If anyone else is concerned about this issue, please contact your commissioner or the county judge and ask them to discuss this with you.

I don’t know why an expense to the county as large as this cannot be put to a vote by the citizens of Goliad, but is instead left in the hands of the commissioners court, especially since the judge, and one, possibly two commissioners will be out of office in five months.

I believe this proposal should be tabled until the start of 2015.

Debra Kelley,

Goliad County
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