A standing room only crowd learned late last week that a management company's interest in Glen Rose Medical Center remains.
At a called meeting Thursday, Rob Horrar, the company's vice-president of operations, dispelled myths about Community Health System (CHS) interest in taking over operation of the local hospital.
Earlier this month, Larry Shaw, chairman of the Somervell County Hospital Authority board of directors, said the authority was not aware of an entity that had interest in GRMC. At that same meeting, County Judge Mike Ford said he had spearheaded discussions with CHS, and Ray Reynolds, CEO of the local hospital, said he had spent several months sending financial records and other requested information to a CHS representative.
Despite a message resounding across the community that a lease agreement would close the doors of the facility, Horrar said that assertion was far from the truth.
Horrar said CHS (Community Health Systems), a Tennessee-based hospital management company that oversees the operation of 137 hospitals in the nation and 18 in Texas including Lake Granbury Medical Center, said the company is continually growing and bringing additional facilities on board.
“This is what we do,” Horrar said. “We invest in and own hospitals in non-urban settings.”
Horrar said the conversation relating to the hospital and an effort to determine if an agreement could be drawn up to meet the needs of CHS and the area stakeholders is ongoing. He said a potential proposal has been stalled due to the county's failure sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Ford said the request had been directed to the wrong entity.
When the Somervell County Hospital Authority was established in January 2010, decisions related to GRMC operations were placed in the hands of the seven-member authority board.
Ford said the letter, requesting a non-disclosure agreement, should be sent to the authority, which has now spent “three years immersed” in the hospital business.
Shaw previously said they had not actively pursued a lease agreement. But it hadn’t been done due to the fact that Ford actively engaged in conversations with CHS, creating some confusion as to where the responsibility fell.
For many in attendance, the less than one-hour meeting shed light on the role the county plays in the management of GRMC. While elected officials have no control over the facility's operations, tax revenue and supplemental funding are taken from the county budget for hospital funding.
“This is the first time we have discussed the authority and their responsibilities in an open session, to my knowledge,” Commissioner John Curtis said, adding the next step should be a meeting with the hospital authority board to “determine their course of action.”
Upon learning the county’s hands were tied, Commissioner Larry Hulsey directed a question to Shaw, asking for the authority to enter into discussions with CHS.
Shaw denied the request, saying the authority had already made a determination on the issue. He said they did not want to “muck up the water” as the May election approaches.
“That is not to say the future district would not want to,” Shaw said.
Meanwhile, Horrar said CHS could enter into an agreement with the authority or a district.
“We have had relationships with both,” Horrar said, “(We entered into an agreement) with a district in Weatherford and an authority in Tomball.”
On Monday, Ford said the public can expect no further action from the county related to GRMC until after the election.