FAIRFIELD/ ROCKDALE, TX — Texas rural healthcare is in crisis and there are two different approaches to two slightly different problems.
We'll look at two communities and their different approaches to the life-threatening problems their vanishing healthcare has created.
In a meeting, the Fairfield Hospital District board explained its plans to almost double its tax rate, from 12 to 21 cents, just to keep it's hospital afloat.
"I see so many small hospitals closing or going by the wayside, people are having to travel great distances for their healthcare," said George Robinson, Board Chair.
He doesn't want to see that happen in Freestone County, so he's ready to open his wallet to prevent it. He says Freestone County can't afford not to raise its taxes to keep the hospital doors open.
"And what you're going to find is, we're going to lose a lot of citizens. And I don't want that for our people here in this county," he explained.
What does he mean by that?
In Milam County, two of the hospitals in Rockdale closed down. It left the volunteer fire departments as the only emergency medical care aside from an ambulance.
"Our volunteers are basic first aid trained, CPR trained and AED trained," said Chief Ward Roddam, of the Rockdale Volunteer Fire Department.
Ambulance wait times have increased as his department takes more calls.
Without a currently operating hospital, Taylor, in the next county, has the nearest ER.
Milam County leaders have their own plan for a safety net.
"Our hospital board have been discussing opening an additional clinic here if I understand that correctly but again, that's going to be at a burden to taxpayers. They're talking about a b 16.8 percent tax increase. It would be a clinic It wouldn't be a hospital. It wouldn't be an emergency room, so yes that would be great to have, no it's not good to put an additional tax burden on our citizens, and no, it's not enough," said Roddam.
The residents in these two counties will pay more for vastly different levels of care, using the same basic argument.
"We need this hospital facility here to protect the citizens of this county and to protect our people that are traveling up and down the interstate," said Robinson.
If you wonder which Central Texas cities have hospitals that offer the most common trauma care, we've compiled this list based on information from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
Cities with hospitals which provide level 4 or "basic" care include: Killeen, Lampasas, Taylor, Brownfield, Caldwell, Navasota, Gatesville, Fairfield, Hamilton, Hillsboro, Groesbeck, Corsicana, Mexia and Harker Heights.
Other cities may or may not have any trauma centers, or may offer a higher level of care.
For instance, Waco has a level 2, or "major" trauma center, and Temple has a level 1, or "comprehensive" trauma center, the only one in our part of Central Texas.
For a complete list of Texas Trauma centers, and where to find them, click here.