Five of the seven newly appointed hospital authority directors were sworn in Monday at the Somervell County Commissioner’s Court meeting.

The board of directors, which was appointed Oct. 19 consists of Bob Lancaster, Ernie Reinke, Gary Whittle, Sharon Boone, Deborah Gray, Larry Shaw and Angie Robertson.

Shaw and Whittle were absent for the swearing in because of prior commitments.

County commissioners thanked the board for their willingness to volunteer as a team and lead the Glen Rose Medical Center.

“One of the things we understand on the (commissioner’s) court is that whatever this board does we are going to be held responsible by the public,” Commissioner Mike Ford said.

Ford said the court appointed particular individuals to the board because it had faith in them and their decisions.

The need for a new hospital authority board of directors came to light in August when the county received a letter from the Glen Rose Medical Center Foundation Board, which recommended “the re-establishment of the Somervell Healthcare Authority and the transfer of the lease to this governmental organization.”

The effective date for the transfer, originally scheduled for Oct. 1, was also set for Monday after both entities realized the first deadline was not viable.

Glen Rose Medical Foundation began operating under its current lease agreement with Somervell County in October 2003, according to the letter. In the lease, the foundation agreed to meet specific objectives - including growing the business, maintaining the physical plant, purchasing new equipment and land and employing more than 250 individuals - which have all been met, bringing an estimated $2.2 million to the county’s assets.

Last July, the foundation decided, through strategic planning and monitoring of operations, that it would present the establishment of a hospital district to Somervell County residents.

“The foundation determined that in order to preserve and maintain the medical center’s level of services, market share and quality it would require other funding sources,” the board said.

The hospital, which has been a non-profit organization for nearly six years, stayed afloat until the 2008 fiscal year, which recorded a loss of more than $800,000, according to a previous article in The Reporter. It was estimated that the loss of a physician and an assistant, along with the opening of the Lake Granbury Medical Center cost the hospital $8 million. 

The foundation launched a four-month education program on the creation of a hospital district, which was denied in February. Votes against the district tallied 597 residents while 336 voted in its favor.

“As a result of the strategic planning process the foundation board has determined that in the best interest of this community and in the best interest of maintaining the current level of services and after the failure of the hospital district election that it is necessary to inform the commissioner’s court that the foundation will be at risk of not meeting the lease covenants effective Oct. 1, 2009,” the board stated.

The commissioners were supportive of the foundation’s decision and several stated they felt it was due to difficult circumstances that landed the foundation in its current position.

“People question why things have moved so quick,” Judge Walter Maynard said. “I personally think it’s because of a loss of doctors and the national health care issues.”

Several years ago, the foundation was advised it could afford $750,000 annual payments to expand the hospital. That changed 18 months ago when it became clear they could no longer afford it, Maynard said.

Meetings of the hospital authority will be open to the public and will be held at the Glen Rose Medical Center.