After nearly four years, things are running smoothly at the Grayson County Health Clinic.
Michael Hall, associate administrator at Texoma Medical Center and part of the administrative board of the Grayson County Health Clinic, told county leaders Tuesday the clinic is continuing to do well. Former Grayson County Judge Drue Bynum also addressed the court about the program he helped start.
The clinic opened in August 2013 as a way for the county to help divert people away from the local emergency rooms, while leveraging the 8 percent of the county budget that is set aside each year to pay for medical care for indigent individuals.
Hall said very exciting things that have happened at the clinic this year are the receipt of its 501(c)3 status and the addition to the board of both Michelle Lemming from the Texoma Health Foundation and Chip Adami from the Wilson N. Jones Foundation.
He said the clinic started with two providers and will have 21 providers at the end of the spring.
“Last year, we ended with about 12,000 encounters and this year we are on track to have about 14,000 encounters,” Hall said.
He said those are people that are being routed away from the emergency rooms at local hospitals.
“We are able to treat (them) earlier in their stages of their diseases,” Hall said, explaining that makes the treatments less expensive and invasive.
Clients on the county’s indigent health rolls have grown from 125 to 325 in the time the clinic has been opened. Those clients are treated by both doctors at the clinic and referred to specialists who also treat them for the clinic.
“We have 40-plus specialists that we can refer those indigent health clients to and we can pay those specialists,” Hall said.
In addition to making sure their clients can see specialists, the staff members at the Grayson Health Clinic have also put together a medicine assistance program that assures clients don’t just leave with a prescription they can’t afford to fill. Instead, they leave with the medication. The program has allowed the staff to assist more than 1,000 patients with more than $5 million worth of medications, total. The clients get a 90-day supply of medication at a time.
“We’ve grown exponentially from just over 5,000 square feet to just shy of 10,000 square feet as we continue to see additional patients and providers,” Hall said to commissioners.
Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said not only is the clinic the right thing to do for the people who are served, but it is a good economic model for the county. It allows Grayson to take the money it had to set aside by law and serve so many more people.
Bynum, who worked to get the clinic started, was also at the county courthouse Tuesday to help share the success story.
Bynum said at first he thought the program that allowed the county to leverage that 8 percent of its budget that was set aside for indigent health to help bring down federal dollars was going to be a pain to the county.
“What’s been amazing with this process is we are, I believe, one of the few, if not the only county, in the state of Texas that is actually taking the amount of money that we were spending anyway, and leveraged it with federal funds and opened up a clinic for the under insured and the noninsured,” Bynum said. “That is remarkable. That is doing what we should be doing as fiduciaries.”
He said the county is turning $2 million into $5 million-plus.
“It’s been an amazing process,” Bynum said, explaining it took a little longer than expected to get the nonprofit status and praising Magers for taking the ball on that project and running with it.
Bynum said that will allow the clinic to stand on its own should the federal money that is now being funneled to it dry up. Those who spoke about the clinic on Tuesday pointed to a grant of $56,500 from the Byrd Fielder Livengood Charitable Trust. He said that grant was received within months of getting the nonprofit status, so he is sure that should they need to, the folks behind the clinic could get the grant monies to keep it open.
Magers said one of the great things about the clinic is the fact that it is using young doctors for staff and that introduces those doctors doing their residencies to the Grayson County area or allows them to return home to the area if they are from here originally.