As one clinic closes, another emerges for indigent care in Victoria

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Aug. 22, 2012 at 3:22 a.m.

Victoria Regional Maternal Child Health Center is closing on Aug. 31, but that does not mean residents will go without health care.

Community Health Centers of South Central Texas plans to bring those same services, plus more, in coming months, said Henry Salas, chief executive officer of Community Health Centers. The upcoming center focuses on the indigent and uninsured population, but is for all residents.

Victoria's maternal child health center, which is part of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, is one of two centers being closed in Texas, said Raul Reyes, UTMB's director of media relations. The branch's other clinics received reduced services.

"This is a direct result of budget shortfall," Reyes said. "The fact of the matter is we'd love to continue servicing areas in the state. It's a financial challenge."

The Victoria and Huntsville Clinic were closed based on lower patient volumes than the other clinics, he said.

The plan for a Victoria Community Health Center is not in response to the maternal child health center closing, Salas said.

Building this new center has been in the strategic plan since 2007. The center would offer the maternal and child health services the current center holds, plus mental and dental health services and a pharmacy and laboratory.

The center would also help decrease emergency room visits and re-admittance.

"It's going to be a larger scope than just child and mothers," he said. "If there is anyway to help anyone in the community, we will do that."

Salas is hesitant to say when the center will open because they are waiting for the final approval from Health Resources and Services Administration.

Salas could see no chance for the administration to say no to the go ahead.

"They have it on their scope, too," he said. "I don't expect for that (disapproval) to happen."

At first, the center will be housed at the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center, using existing staff and resources to get the clinic started. The Victoria Community Health Center will also hire more staff and bring its equipment and resources, Salas said.

"We're trying to supplement what Victoria already has," he said.

By mid-2013, Salas hopes to have an 8,000-12,000-square-foot medical center, which will house 12 exam rooms, a pharmacy, dental clinic, lab and private counseling rooms.

Salas has visions for expansion and plans to build bigger and better.

"We just want to serve the people," he said. "We're feeling comfortable and we have a lot of support."



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