Talking it out on the hospital district

Published 5:31 am Saturday, January 13, 2018

By Bobby Tingle


A hospital district in Orange County has attracted a lot of attention.

I would estimate a combined total of 400 local citizens showed up for two town hall meetings prior to the election December 19, 2017.   Hard working, tax-paying citizens took the opportunity to express their opinions and ask questions. I attended both meetings. It is my opinion attendees agreed more than they disagreed.

Local leaders who initiated the hospital district election attended both meetings, made public comments and answered questions from members of the community.

The issues foremost on the minds of attendees fell into two general areas.

Most attending agreed Orange County is deficient in health care options. The level of care and the availability of doctors are below par. Two doctors practicing locally stated some doctors would not locate and practice here because their specialty requires a hospital.

Most attending also agreed on three things.

We do not need more taxes, we do not need the expense of elections and there were not enough details given regarding the scope of the proposed hospital district’s authority and plans.

These sentiments are well grounded and easy to agree with.

This week a reader responded to my comments published in The Orange Leader. Her letter is published below at the end of this article.

I generally agree with her and feel two responses are necessary.

First, I applaud the local citizens who pursued a valid petition calling for an election on a proposed hospital district. These individuals have the best interests of our community at heart and should be appreciated for giving their time and talent in this endeavor.

Judge Stephen “Brint” Carlton is on solid ground when he denies responsibility. Publicly he has made an effort to inform area residents while making every effort to be neutral on the issue. His public comments may have led area residents to believe he initiated the effort. The reality is other community leaders led the effort.

Second, I still believe a hospital district is necessary for Orange County in spite of the overwhelming rejection at the polls. Voter turnout was amazing. The voter rejection was resolute. But, the advantage a hospital district offers is compelling. A health care provider, with the authorization of the hospital district, can increase their Medicare reimbursement rate when operating under its authority. The increased reimbursement rate is essential to successfully delivering hospital level health care. Orange County could be served well by a micro-hospital. A small-scale hospital tailored to the needs of this community could fulfill our need. Small does not equate to second-rate. We need to serve short term and mid level health care needs locally while referring more complicated cases to facilities whose expertise can better serve those patient needs.

We need to maintain an open mind and public dialogue as we pursue the correct path. I appreciate our readers who engage in that dialogue as much as I appreciate community leaders willing to pursue solutions to our community needs.


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


Misplaced support for Hospital District and election expense

I notice you seem highly supportive of the Hospital District (and apparently the $40K expenditure this election cost the county).  County Judge Carlton is busily trying to distance himself from responsibility on this issue.  Perhaps the “group of civic leaders calling itself Care for Orange County” should step up and lay claim to starting this petition (and as a result, the $40K related election cost).

It seems that you may be encouraging a second election (at an additional similar expenditure).  While there were a few votes in favor, the vast majority were against this program.   Wake up!  A hospital would be great if it was a decent one.  There are many of the little emergency centers available, and many people have already switched their care to Port Arthur/Beaumont or Houston for care.  The local doctors have left and few would return.  Many of those already were using the PTA/BMT facilities.  Most of the people prefer using those facilities and the short distances are no real detriment to them.  A half hour drive is not considered unreasonable to most areas.  Only a small town mentality considers them a long way off.  For shopping, a half hour seems reasonable and not having closer conveniences is accepted as part of small town life.

Orange County, surely, has better places that $40K ( or $80K) could be spent.  Please do not encourage more waste.  DO encourage those that started this election petition to step up and accept responsibility for this cost so the fingers will be pointed at the right people.  It is pitiful for our officials to have to keep saying, ” I didn’t do it!”.

Chris Pifer

West Orange