Lavaca doctor quits, cites concerns about quality of care

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Jan. 14, 2012 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 14, 2012 at 7:15 p.m.

HALLETTSVILLE - Some Lavaca County residents are concerned by the public resignation of a longtime physician.

The 11-year Hallettsville physician, Dr. Justin Powell, announced his resignation from the Lavaca Family Health Clinic and Lavaca Medical Center in December.

At the same time, he placed an ad in the Hallettsville Tribune Herald announcing his concerns.

"The needs of this community require more than one full-time practicing physician," the ad read. "My requests for assistance and suggestion for improvement in the clinic and hospital have been ignored. My emotions have gone from frustration to anger and now sadness."

Later in the letter, Powell writes that Lavaca Medical Center administration has left him with no options. Continuing to work under current conditions, he wrote, would mean he would sacrifice two things he's not willing to do - family and the quality of care he provides.

Shortly after the ad went public, James E. Vanek, the hospital's administrator, also placed an ad with the same publication.

Vanek made it clear that he would not respond to the comments made in Powell's ad.

"Dr. Powell chose to make a number of harsh allegations in his recent advertisement," Vanek's ad read. "If Dr. Powell had raised concerns with us, we would have taken those concerns seriously and responded appropriately."

Vanek's ad announces Powell's resignation from the health clinic as of Jan. 1.

Already, a split debate has started on several Facebook pages about Powell's resignation. However, none of the people contacted on the social media site wanted to comment.

Vanek said he is not aware of the discussion on Facebook.

"He just resigned from the clinic," Vanek said of Powell. "But he still has medical staff privileges at the hospital."

With Powell's resignation, the family health clinic has been left with two practitioners to take care of its patients.

"We're maintaining the clinic. We're seeing patients," Vanek said. "We're taking care of business."

Powell could not be reached for comment.

The entire ordeal is upsetting for Maxie Brocker, 76, who has lived in Hallettsville for most of his life.

For the past three years, he was under the care of Powell, but because of the resignation, he and his wife now go to a family doctor in Cuero.

"I believe there is a problem with the board not recognizing where the problem is," he said. "It's a whole community that is upset."

Before Powell, Brocker had bad experiences at the hospital.

Brocker referred to some doctors he had seen as "rent-a-doctors," who lacked expertise and some compassion.

Brocker said he has seen the town lose good doctors and he, along with many others, want answers.

"We've had it with the local administration board," he said.



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