With the Feb. 14 election date looming, residents gathered at the Citizen’s Center Monday night for another chance to hear information about the hospital district and get answers to nagging questions.
The initial information provided was similar to last week’s town hall meeting, but residents came with more questions.
One of the top questions on everyone’s mind was “Who is Rose Beck?”
Rose Beck first appeared as a spokesperson for the Glen Rose Health Partnership in November when reports about the partnership purchasing Meridian Manor in Bosque County first surfaced.
Since then speculations about Beck’s affiliation with the Glen Rose Medical Center (GRMC) were voiced.
Gary Marks with GRMC emphatically denied that Beck is now or ever has been an employee at GRMC or in any way represents GRMC in the Meridian Manor purchase.
He said Beck was hired as an outside consultant for the nursing home at GRMC to help improve operations.
Marks also stated that GRMC is not affiliated with the Glen Rose Health Care Partnership and that no money from GRMC or the foundation would be used in the purchase.
“We have not purchased any nursing homes in Meridian,” Marks said.
The Bosque County News reported that talks between the partnership and the nursing home facility in Meridian have stalled.
The facility is appraised at $1.8 million by the Bosque County Appraisal District and the partnership offered a bid of $750,000, which the Meridian Hospital Authority Board accepted.
According to the newspaper, the board has faced its own share of financial issues over the last year.
A $30,000 escrow payment was due in January, with Beck handing over only $1,000.
Marks said that although he cannot simply answer yes or no to questions about county money leaving the area, he said GRMC did have an interest in staffing a physician’s clinic in the same facility as Meridian Manor. He added the revenue generated would outweigh the cost.
Another area of concern involved indigent health care expenses.
The county is required to put aside eight percent of its budget for indigent care. GRMC is also required to supply indigent care as part of its lease agreement with the county.
Only three to four percent of designated county funds have been used for indigent care due to requirements residents must meet in order to qualify.
Dr. Michael Davis, GRMC chief of staff, said they would be mandating a new medical screening exam for patients in the emergency room before services are rendered to evaluate if the patient is a true emergency. He said this will help the center deal with the high number of indigent patients coming in from Hood County.
A $14.5 million certificate of obligation approved by the Somervell County Commissioner’s Court in April 2008 was another sticking point.
Marks said if voters approve the hospital district, the certificate would become the district’s responsibility and would no longer be on the county books.
If the district is not approved, the county would then need to decide what to do to ensure the hospital doors stay open.
Early voting will continue through Feb.10 at the County Clerk’s office.