PCHC CEO approaches hospital leadership to discuss partnership

Staff Writer

As Memorial Hospital of Texas County faces administrative decisions designed to keep the doors open to serve patients in the community, one potential partnership has returned to the forefront to bring patients back to the hospital.

Since its opening in 2016, Panhandle Counseling and Health Center has stepped into the role of providing medical, behavioral health and dental services in the medically underserved Texas County area. The clinic serves uninsured, insured, Medicare and Medicaid patients and offers a sliding fee scale to allow patients to pay an more affordable fee. Services are funded through a grant for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC). By December of its inaugural year, the clinic had seen 1,500 new patients, seeing an average of 20 to 25 patients a day.

In August, CEO Sarah Wagner reported the clinic was up to 16 employees and had a patient base of over 5,300, including two medical providers and two behavioral health providers.
Since its inception, PCHC has sought a working relationship with MHTC, seeking out a contract with the hospital to cover services the clinic is unable to provide at its current facility.

The goal of the clinic is to support the hospital and to create access to care. Wagner noted that the hospital can bill the clinic for encounters the hospital would not see payment for otherwise. In some cases, the clinic has provided services to patients who have not sought care for an extended length of time.

Wagner noted that the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the clinic’s funding entity, requires the clinic to have a contract for services they are unable to provide.
“We have been chasing a contract with the hospital so we can present that,” PCHC board member Dianna Brown said. “We are on a short turnaround now to be able to provide that contract back.”

Hospital administration has agreed to take time to meet with representatives with PCHC to discuss the matter.

Pick up Tuesday's paper for more on this proposal.