Battle of the Hospital Districts

Commentary by Gloria Way

It all started in 2014 when the Chambers County Public Health District #1 (Chambers Health) bought land near East Chambers elementary school to build a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). According to a Texas Attorney General opinion, a hospital district cannot infringe upon the boundaries of another hospital district without written permission from the hospital district that is being infringed upon. The Winnie Stowell Hospital District (WSHD) did not grant permission to Chambers Health to open the clinic. So, in a written agreement with WSHD, WSHD agreed to purchase the land purchased by Chambers Health for the clinic at a cost of $400,000 in exchange that Chambers Health agree to not open a clinic within the WSHD boundaries. Since then, all has been quiet on the eastern front.
Eight years later, through a grant, WSHD agreed to fund Coastal Gateway Health Center (CGHC)seed money to establish a primary care clinic in Stowell. The Winnie-Stowell area is still considered a medically underserved area, and the WSHD board sought an outlet to bring quality healthcare to its residents. When Chambers Health became aware of the new clinic, the move was made to establish a clinic in Winnie to prevent Chambers Health from losing its Winnie-Stowell clients to Coastal Gateway Health Center.
Chambers Health CEO Bob Pascasio immediately set out to find property to establish a clinic in Winnie. Pascasio stated in a conversation with The Seabreeze Beacon several months ago, that the Chambers Health board had empowered him to “explore all possibilities of developing health care facilities to service its patients”. Choosing to ignore the 2014 executed agreement to not infringe upon the boundaries of WSHD, Pascasio signed a five-year lease for space next to Market Basket supermarket in Winnie. WSHD sent several notices via emails and letters to Chambers Health to stop. After no response from Chambers Health, WSHD filed for a temporary injunction to halt all construction/remodeling of the space until the issue was settled in a court of law. A judge granted the temporary injunction, and all construction/remodeling has ceased. A hearing has been set in September 2024 to hear the case and decide whether Chambers Health can proceed with building its clinic in spite of the 2014 agreement that Chambers Health agreed not to build a clinic in Winnie in exchange for $400,000.
Once again, the administration of Chambers Health has proven that it cannot live up to its fiduciary duty to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is used efficiently. The current CEO has cost the Anahuac taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees and in paying rent for a lease that Chambers Health must continue to pay because he acted in haste and did not perform the due diligence necessary for a clean transaction. The Board is apparently split between the actions of the CEO and whether his statement of “the board had empowered him to explore all possibilities of developing healthcare facilities to service its patients” was implied or not and if it gave him permission to sign a five-year lease.
After a called meeting last week, the Chambers Health Board of Directors voted to settle the litigation with WSHD. Details are sketchy but you can be certain that Chambers Health will not be opening a clinic within the WSHD boundaries.
WSHD has funded many worthwhile projects in its boundaries including but not limited to an annual grant to ECISD in the amount of almost $200,000, funding a transport van for Winnie-Stowell EMS, a van for Precinct 1, grant funding to improve facilities and operations of Riceland Hospital, education funding for healthcare employees, etc.
WSHD is committed to ensure the residents of Winnie and Stowell continue to receive quality healthcare through its partnership with Coastal Gateway Health Center.

Posted in LatestNews.