By Lynda Jones - Editor-in-Chief
Along with new management, the hospital owned by the Houston County Hospital District (HCHD) is in for another name change.
As the Houston County Hospital District Board of Directors planned its transition from the hospital in Crockett being leased and operated by the East Texas Medical Center (ETMC), it set a goal to find a third party to manage what became Houston County Medical Center on June 1, 2015.
During the past year, along with Community Hospital Consulting, the search progressed quietly while the HCHD board worked on the transition and operation of the hospital and its adjacent medical clinic.
That search culminated with the signing of a management agreement with Little River Healthcare (LRH), based in Rockdale, on April 11.
During the HCHD board meeting on Tuesday, April 26, the directors voted on its choice of a new name for the Houston County Medical Center, Timberlands Hospital.
In an interview with the Houston County Courier, Ryan Downton, president and one of the owners of Little River Healthcare, said the name is not official yet.
Downton, also the chief legal officer for LRH, explained that certain legal procedures must happen before the change can happen. Also, the exact name, according to Downton, will be Timberlands Hospital, Operated by Little River Healthcare.
That is because the agreement between LRH and the HCHD is a management agreement, not a lease agreement. The ultimate LRH goal is to purchase the hospital facility, and when that time comes, the name would become Little River Healthcare/Timberlands Hospital.
In explaining the current agreement, Downton said it is an at-risk management scenario. LRH has assumed management of the hospital, including assuming the facility's operational expenses, according to Downton.
He further stated that since the hospital has been losing money, LRH has extended the HCHD a line of credit. When the hospital starts making a profit under LRH management, Downton said, those profits will become LRH's management fee. In the meantime, the HCHD is not paying LRH for its management services.
As previously reported, LRH has placed Robert Torres at the hospital as the interim CEO. He also said all personnel are staying here, per the agreement.
LRH has already started working to recruit additional doctors/specialists in the region for the hospital, Downton said.
Downton said the medical community wants LRH here and LRH is excited to be be here, working with the entire community and to be successful in keeping a good community hospital here.
The goal is for the people of Houston County to get quality healthcare right here at home.