Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

July 11, 2012

Local hospital thrives in spite of state’s health rating

JACKSONVILLE — Despite Texas ranking the 'worst' in the nation for health care services according to annual scoreboard by the federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, a local hospital said it does not fall in that category.

John Moore, public relations officer with Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics, said the integrated health system stretches across East Texas from Sulfur Springs to Athens..

“Fortunately, our part at Trinity Mother Frances is doing exceptionally well,” he said. “In regards to quality, we have won dozens of awards over the last several years from independent organizations that rank healthcare.”

At the beginning of May, Trinity Mother Frances — Jacksonville received the Texas Health Care Quality Improvement Award by TMF Health Quality Institute, an independent organization not affiliated with Trinity Mother Frances.

“As a nonprofit consulting company focused on promoting quality health and health care, TMF is proud to recognize these hospitals for promoting quality improvement activities and their senior management for promoting a quality culture,” said Tom Manley, CEO of TMF Health Quality Institute, in a press release.

“Quality improvement is a complex and demanding process, and we thank Mother Frances Hospital-Jacksonville for their commitment to improving the health of Texans and the efficiency of health care in our state,” he said.

In April, Trinity Mother Frances Hospital — Tyler was named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals by Thomson Reuters, a provider of information and solutions to improve the cost and quality of healthcare.

The hospital is one of five hospitals in Texas and one of 20 in the nation that received this award in the large community hospital category.

Officials with East Texas Medical Center — Jacksonville were unavailable to comment regarding the hosptials health care services.

According to the report from the agency, in nine out of 12 categories, Texas rated weak or very weak. The only area where Texas earned an above average ranking of "strong" was in maternal and child health care measures.

The researchers from the agency gather the data from national and regional areas, come up with an average and then compare the state to that average to generate a score.

According to the Associated Press, the report is designed to help politicians, policy makers, private insurers, state and federal agencies identify strengths and weaknesses in state health care programs.

Christopher Taylor, executive director of the Cherokee County Health Department, said Cherokee County's health rankings are low.

“Roughly, we have a 1:1700 physician to patient ratio,” he said. “That number needs to change.”

Taylor said the county has a high occurrence of uncompensated pay.

“There are a lot of people who don't have insurance, and when it gets to the point when they need a doctor and end up in the emergency room, it drives up that cost and then they are not able to pay the bill,” he said. “We have an estimated $52 million in uncompensated pay. Hospitals don't get paid for those services and that's a lot of money for the (number of residents) there are.”

According to The Associated Press, Texas scored particularly poorly in the home health care category, with the study finding that the state provided little support to the elderly and disabled who chose to live at home.

Taylor said he can imagine the rural make-up of the county could make home care problematic for the elderly.

“We've got good hospital systems, but we are limited on the services they provide,” he said.

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