CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Chief Operating Officer Glen Robison of East Texas Community Clinic (ETCC) was the guest speaker of the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon July 8.
Robison spoke positively of the growth, care and service to the community provided by ETCC, stating that they have maxed out their Gun Barrel City facility location. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Pediatrician Dr. Alice Splinter works alongside Dr. Douglas Curran who practices family medicine. Together they see 78-86 patients in a day through the clinic. “From May to December, we had approximately 7,000 patient visits that we saw with 46% comprising of Medicaid, 23-26% were nonfunded or private patients. The remainder were Medicare or your other commercial payers,” says Robison. He says that’s a good payer mix for their facility.
They are in the final stages of obtaining a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) designation says Robison. He jokingly said, “I don’t know if you’ve ever done any applications with the federal government, but they’re a little bit particular with their applications.” The first application Robison says he submitted was over 340 pages of which four items were to be changed so the application had to be resubmitted, all 340 plus pages. The designation will provide grants from the Health Services Administration with the Federal Government. This incentivizes and allows physicians to see patients who are not funded. Robison says many area physicians do not accept Medicaid patients because the reimbursement is very low, however the FQHC assists in making up the difference so physicians can still provide care to patients. “We see everybody regardless of whether they are fully funded or no funds. We are there Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. and on Saturday 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.,” Robison said.
A second location was recently opened in Athens June 14, nearly tripling the size of the Gun Barrel City location at 7,000 square feet with 16 exam rooms. Robison brought more positive news to the chamber, stating that they were approved in conjunction with UT Health Science Center for a Continuity Clinic for the purpose of a new residency program. The program is a three-year program for family practice physicians of which four are selected. Over 800 applicants applied for the program and the four selected were from the top 12.
ETCC is also involved in the Henderson County Hope Project which is the Henderson County opioid abuse prevention and education that’s based out with UT Health. ETCC has a state grant that provides, at no cost, treatment and care for individuals and patients that are either addicted or have overdosed on opioids. Robison said that same program also has also trained 50 of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Officer’s on suboxone for opioid overdose. The officers are trained and now have that in their patrol cars available for life-saving events. They are working with United Way of Henderson County and is also working to establish a Henderson County coordinating council to bring all modalities of health, benevolence, prescriptions, food securities and physical fitness together.
Robison said ETCC is a 501(c)3 organization and all the successes thus far have been from private foundations and grants. “Trying to get private foundations and grants to donate during a pandemic and COVID has been quite challenging, but we were successful to do that,” says Robison.
Dr. Douglas Curran also attended the luncheon and spoke to the chamber. Curran who was President of the Texas Medical Association 2019-2020 said he spent a year traveling the state of Texas speaking to groups like our chamber of commerce. “We do a lot of really good stuff in this state, but one of the things we do that is not very good, is we don’t take very good care of our people,” said Curran. He stated that Texas is the national leader in uninsured dead. “What that means is, you are going to die sooner if you get cancer, heart disease if you get a number of other illnesses that we can take care of because if you don’t have health insurance you just don’t go to the doctor,” Curran says. He feels like the greatest tragedy of it all is that we lead the nation in uninsured children. Curran encouraged attendees to ask our elected officials, “What are you going to do about healthcare?” “It’s complicated, it’s hard, it is not easy, but we have accomplished so many things in this country and in this state, we have to fix our healthcare system,” Curran urged.
Part of an attempt to fix a small part of healthcare is the Federally Qualified Healthcare Center that Robison spoke about. Almost 40% of Henderson County’s populous fits into the wheelhouse of the FQHC. The FQHC is a bi-partisan effort and is one of 73 in the state. “The best part of what we are trying to do here is that we have bi-partisan, both Democrats and Republicans at the national level, have been very supportive of federally qualified health centers. We know we can teach residents within that program, teach them how to practice medicine and their going to stay around here and practice medicine, which is great,” says Curran.
Curran was enthusiastic about the prospects coming to the area and though he knows it will be challenging, he is embracing the 20-mile march as he figuratively compared it to south pole racers Scott and Amundsen in the early 1900s. “Life is a 20-mile race every day…Life’s hard and dog gone it if it isn’t hard the next day, but you got to get it done and we are going to do that with this clinic, we’ve done it so far. I’m amazed at what’s going on, good things are happening and we’re going to do everything we can to keep them happening,” said Curran. Curran and Robison both were appreciative of the community’s support and positivity.
The Refuge at Cedar Creek Lake was the sponsor of July’s luncheon. Joy Long who owns The Refuge, says that clients are down due to COVID, but they have served over 250 individuals and 3,000 pounds of food so far. The Refuge is open on the first and third Tuesdays of the month and is located at 20159 Highway 274 serving the 75143 ZIP code.
Marty Mullins Owner of Texas Ability and who serves on countless committees around the lake area, was presented with the business of the month award.