Lack of action on south Brewster clinic raises concern

ALPINE – What looked like a so-called circular firing squad over inaction over a new health clinic for south Brewster County could quickly be resolved, conversations with the three entities involved indicated this week.

The Big Bend Regional Hospital District board expressed concern at its regular meeting here last week that it had approved $200,000 for the new health clinic and so far, there has been little or no sign of progress.

Board Chair Lisa Taylor said the board met with attorney Greg Hudson in December and “now it’s May and it has not changed at all.” Hudson represents both the county and the hospital district.

Preventive Care Health Services of Alpine, which applied for the grant last year so it could build and operate the clinic, said it has not received anything.

“In September of 2018, PCHS requested a grant from the Hospital District for $200,000 to help open a clinic in Terlingua,” CEO Linda Molinar said. “At this time, PCHS has not received any funding from the Hospital District.

“Any questions should be directed to the Hospital District,” she said. “At this time, PCHS remains committed to extending services to the citizens of South Brewster County.”

Brewster County Judge Eleazar Cano told the Big Bend Sentinel and Presidio International this week that Hudson was to draft an agreement to first be reviewed by the Hospital District. “Once they sign off on the draft, they would forward it to us,” he said. “As of last week, it had not been made available to us.”

After that conversation, Taylor told us that the issue should be resolved this week. When she receives the document from Houston, she will schedule a called meeting to accept Hudson’s documents.

“The problem is the wheel is so big, we can’t see it, she said.

“In December, it was decided the county would hold the money and divvy it out,” Taylor said. “We can’t do that. But the county has got to say it is here at [the] Red Pattillo [Center] or EMS.”

Some suggested earlier that a better location for the health clinic could be at the Emergency Response Center but later reports said propane tanks on the property worked against that location. The county had offered land just west of the Red Pattillo Community Center in Study Butte.

“They [the county] will be custodians of the $200,000,” Taylor said. “Greg [Hudson] is drawing up paper work that they will be caretakers of the money.”

She said PCHS wants to own the building to get more grants. From the Hospital District’s position, that is public money and if, for whatever reason, PCHS no longer controlled the clinic, what would happen to taxpayer-owned assets?

The district board took no action on maintenance costs on the new ambulance in Presidio. Board Member Buddy Cavness had expressed concern with reported unusually high fuel and tire usage on the two Presidio ambulances, the newest of which was financed by the Hospital District.

Presidio now is seeking funding for a new ambulance to replace the older of the two.

New EMS Director Malynda Richardson told the board last month she would have figures ready for last week’s meeting but the discussion never arose during the open meeting and Richardson was not at that meeting.