Franklin County officials have been notified by the East Texas
Medical Center Regional Healthcare System of the system's intent to
terminate its lease of ETMC Mount Vernon effective Jan. 1.
The ETMC First Physicians clinic in Mount Vernon will continue
to operate with Dr. Jean Latortue and nurse practitioner Delisa
Brooks providing care.
Poor utilization and declining reimbursement rates were cited as
reasons for the decision. "The decision to terminate our lease of
ETMC Mount Vernon was an extremely difficult one," said Perry
Henderson, senior vice president, affiliate operations. "ETMC has
leased this hospital for more than 25 years, so this decision is
one we struggled with and did not make lightly. However, the
reality of the situation is that due to changes in healthcare and
low patient volumes at this facility, we can no longer afford to
operate a hospital in this community."
Henderson noted that the emergency department saw on average
eight patients a day and the hospital averaged only three or four
inpatients a day. "With utilization numbers like these, you can't
even cover the overhead associated with keeping a hospital open and
providing quality care."
Declining reimbursements from payers such as Medicare and
Medicaid contributed to unsustainable losses at the hospital and
thus, the decision to close. For example, in 2013, Medicaid
reimbursed most hospitals less than 50 percent of their Texas
Health and Human Services Commission-audited allowed costs for
inpatient care, according to the Texas Hospital Association.
team at ETMC is saddened to have to make this decision," Henderson
said. "However, healthcare is changing and we are working hard to
make the changes needed to remain viable and continue our mission
of care in East Texas," Henderson said. "We hope the community will
understand our decision and continue to support Dr. Latortue and
40 team members will be affected by the closure. ETMC will provide
assistance to these individuals as they seek employment, either
with other ETMC facilities or elsewhere.