An agreement between Cuero Community Hospital and Methodist Healthcare System of San Antonio has been signed, according to Hospital Board Chairman Rick Wheeler.

The affiliation agreement between the Cuero hospital and Methodist, which at times created tension between area community members and the hospital's board, came after months of review.

Some constituents thought the agreement would strip control of the hospital from the community, but a contract that was made public by the Advocate showed control would remain with members of the hospital's board.

The contract will go into effect Jan. 1 and will cost the hospital $104,000 a year. The hospital's CEO, Skip Gjolberg, will become an employee of Methodist to allow for easy access to Methodist's services, but he has said in the past that he will still answer to the hospital's Board of Directors.

Wheeler said nothing had changed in the agreement since the October meeting, when the hospital's board decided to table the affiliation to have more time to review it.

There would be no personnel changes within the staff at Cuero Community Hospital, but the 49-bed hospital will now have access to "their expert advice and bring some of their people in to help our people and our people will collaborate with them," Wheeler said.

The agreement had brought out dozens of residents to previous forums to discuss the proposed affiliation, many whom were concerned about a lack of information regarding the contract and the affect it would have on Cuero Community Hospital.

Gjolberg said a couple of people showed up to the Nov. 22 board meeting to air their concerns regarding treatment they had received from Methodist.

Gjolberg said that in regularly scheduled quarterly forums with hospital staff Wednesday no employees had comments to share about the affiliation with Methodist.

He added that the hospital already has seen cost savings of about $10,000 because of canceling a data analytics contract, a service that will be picked up by Methodist.

One issue that was brought up in previous meetings - whether Cuero Community Hospital would have to pay a fee to cancel the vendor agreement it has with MedAsset - is still being worked on.

"I do not have resolution yet to the question of whether we'd have to pay a penalty or not," Gjolberg said.

He added that if Cuero Community Hospital finds it will not save money by joining Methodist's plan, it will be able to remain with MedAsset.

The contract will be reviewed quarterly and Methodist Healthcare Senior Vice President Geoffrey Crabtree will attend the monthly board meetings for Cuero Community Hospital.

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