Liberty County found a way to save their hospital

Published 12:29 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Editorial by Bobby Tingle


Faced with a failing hospital, doomed to fail, doomed to close, Liberty County found a way.

Liberty County Hospital District No. 1 (LCHD1) was formed in February of 2005. Initially voters rejected the hospital district a year earlier. The proposed district boundaries were adjusted and the measure passed in the second election.

The stated purpose of the hospital district is “to provide primary and extended healthcare services based on, but not limited to: residency, income resources, and location within the boundary of the hospital district.  Liberty County Hospital District #1 also supports and maintains the local community hospital.”

Their purpose is stated on their website where you can also read about their directors, staff and how they deliver medical care.

Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center was owned and operated by Frontier Medical Group when the hospital district was formed. According to a report published August 3, 2010 by, taxing entities foreclosed on the owners of the hospital. The hospital was then offered for sale on the steps of the Liberty County Courthouse at 10 a.m. on August 3, 2010.

Liberty County Hospital District No. 1 purchased the hospital in the foreclosure sale resurrecting the hospital and maintaining hospital service for area residents.

Saving the hospital also saved valuable jobs for Liberty County.

In the referenced report, LCHD1 President Bruce Stratton was quoted. “When the hospital district was formed, some thought it was just for indigent care,” said Stratton. “Some of us thought that it had a two-fold purpose of providing indigent care and saving the hospital. What we have been fighting for since 2009 has come to a head.”

Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center possessed a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation and Medicare license at foreclosure. According to the referenced report, the designation and license were acquired along with the hospital. These allow the district to operate the hospital with the additional benefits derived from each. The advantage aids primarily in providing indigent care as each allow for higher reimbursement rates for patients covered by Medicare.

As of three years ago, the hospital was operating at a profit according to a report published at on October 15, 2014. Their report detailed information presented by Stratton in a program to Liberty Rotarians revealing the financial status of the hospital and hospital district.

So how can a failed hospital be resurrected? How can a hospital foreclosed on for failure to pay taxes be resuscitated and operate at a profit?

It appears from reading the referenced reports; the hospital district has been able to manage the hospital in a more efficient manner than previous owners. The hospital district put into place a plan to pay past due taxes and utility bills. Stratton reported the district was up to date with their payment schedule while maintaining balances in a current status with taxes and other vendor payments.

It seems, from reading the reports, the hospital district has been able to recruit and hire management, staff and health care providers willing and capable of delivering a good product at a good price.

No situation or circumstance can be replicated; but much can be learned. Although the information presented here is a bit dated, it does provide a historical perspective, a stated goal and a plan to attain the goal.

The hospital district allowed for collecting taxes from local residents, which certainly helped achieve their purpose. But, as has been opined in The Orange Leader in recent weeks, effective management leads to success when running a hospital or any other for profit or non-profit organization.

You can find more information at the sites referenced above as well as at I would encourage you research this issue.

Orange County needs a hospital. Gathering information from success stories will direct our effort. Let’s hope we have a petition soon calling for an election.


Bobby Tingle is publisher of The Orange Leader. You can reach him at