Hospital District creates new layer of government

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, October 25, 2017

By Dean Crooks


Orange County is considering creating a new taxing authority in the form of an Orange County Hospital District.  Having a new hospital in the county would certainly be wonderful if it was created in a competitive environment through private enterprise. Speeding up the process with a new layer of government may sound like a good idea but it doesn’t really pass any kind of honest scrutiny.

For example, Hardin County went 14 years without a hospital from 1999 when Silsbee Doctors Hospital closed until Altus Emergency Care Center opened in 2013. During that time, I am sure the temptation was great to have government throw money at the problem but it was resisted and they were rewarded with new, privately run facility based on competition and free enterprise. Several other counties in Texas could not resist the siren song of tax dollars and they have not fared so well. Fisher County, Lynn County, Walker County, Mitchell County, Wichita County, and Nacodoches County, just to name a few, have all created hospital districts with a new corresponding layer of taxes and government from 1968 through 2009. All of them have had an obvious slowing of their growth and a few have even gotten smaller since the taxes and hospital districts began. In addition, the influx of taxpayer money does not necessarily translate into better care. Fisher County Hospital District for instance, is ranked 333rd out of 364 hospitals according to The National Healthcare Safety Network and Health Grove.

With regards to the quality of care, if resources and equipment are better in Beaumont, Mid-County, or even Houston, people continue to go there for treatment as opposed to a local, possibly underfunded, facility. I know several people who have fought cancer but willingly drove past other hospitals to go to Houston. Heart attack victims are routinely stabilized many times by small, private ‘Free Standing Emergency Rooms’, facilities that are by nature usually closer and faster than a traditional E. R. Once stabilized the patient is sent on to a hospital with cardiac unit or, sometimes even staffed with their own cardiologist. Whatever the case the patient (or the family) has the option of where to go and, at that moment, their primary concern is to get the best care available not how close or cheap something may be. Please note that there are two such facilities in the City of Orange alone. It should also be noted that citizens in Bridge City will be much closer to the Regional Medical Center than any logical location chosen for the Hospital District in Orange County. Those in Vidor and Rose City will similarly be closer to large medical facilities in Beaumont. Further, the argument that money spent at these facilities will be spent outside of Orange County is ludicrous. When my loved one’s life is on the line, I do not consider whatever trade imbalances that may or may not exist between Orange County and any other place in the world before making a decision about where to take them.

Some have argued that this with aid in getting medical clearance and/or medical attention for arrested subjects when a health complaint is made. This does not appear to be an issue as agencies close to the Regional Medical Center go there and agencies close to Beaumont go there. Other agencies, including the Orange County Sheriff’s Office contract with one of the free-standing emergency rooms. No law enforcement official that I am aware of has expressed a dire need to quickly build a hospital at tax payer expense nor has the quality of law enforcement in our area gone down since the closure of Baptist Hospital in Orange. Even more outlandish is the idea that we must quickly build this money-pit in order to have proper care in the event that a catastrophe occurs on Interstate 10. As a retired police officer, I have worked many major wrecks on the freeway. Training first responders to deal with the people in the immediate area to avoid catastrophic injuries due to fallout from the wreck is a far better solution than building a 25 bed hospital that (due to budget considerations) will probably not have a state-of-the-art trauma center, decontamination facilities, or any other necessary resources to handle such an emergency anyway. Further, not only is the training for first responders cheaper and more effective, in most cases it has already happened. Most of our officers and EMTs are already trained to handle emergency operations which are designed to prevent mass casualties which is always preferable to treating them afterwards in any hospital.

I could go on and point out that we were all told that Obama Care was for our own good when it was forced on us too but as we all know, when government gets involved in health care, it is usually ends badly and well over budget. Remember, if it’s paid for with your tax dollars, it’s government run, whatever it’s called. Please consider the issue closely before casting your vote on December 19th, 2017. What’s wrong with taking a bit more time to get more answers and recover from the recent devastation before incurring yet another humongous debt to drag on our county? In one short year, we could certainly revisit this issue if we feel we must. Don’t let your reason be overcome by fear, vote “NO” for the new Hospital District on December 19th, 2017.


Dean Crooks

Orange County Citizen