At almost the last possible minute — Wednesday, Dec. 30 — Llano County commissioners learned that federal Medicare officials had granted “critical access” designation to Llano Memorial Hospital.
That cleared the way for commissioners to sign a lease with Mid Coast Health System of El Campo to operate the hospital beginning Jan. 1.
Commissioners did that in a special called meeting Thursday, Dec. 31, ensuring that the hospital would remain open.
“(T)his was a critical aspect of our new partner, Mid-Coast Health Care Systems assuming operations of the Llano Hospital and it was a true blessing that we received this designation in such a short time frame,” County Judge Ron Cunningham wrote in an e-mail.
The last-minute designation was the culmination of months of research and interviews by members of the Llano County Hospital Authority Board, who recommended Mid Coast to commissioners as the new hospital operators.
Mid Coast’s CEO, Nathan Tudor, got in touch with the board after hearing that Baylor Scott & White had declined to renew a lease that would end Dec. 31.
Without the “critical access” designation, however it would have been financially impossible to operate the hospital. The designation means that all costs of Medicare patients’ treatments would be covered, which wasn’t true earlier. Losses were a major reason Baylor Scott & White gave for not renewing the contract.
“Rural Health Care in Texas still faces many challenges and we still have much work to do over the coming years,” Cunningham concluded.
He pointed out also that the county had signed an interlocal agreement with Hamilton Emergency Medical Service out of Hamilton to operate four ambulances and a supervisor’s unit out of Llano County. Two ambulances will be stationed in Llano, one in Kingsland and an ambulance and the supervisor at the county’s East Annex at 8347 Ranch Road 1431 in Buchanan Dam.
Transfer of that service from Baylor Scott & White came Thursday afternoon.