May 21, 2024
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Note that the agenda for the Feb 27, 2024 meeting does not say anything about the Hospital District Board talking about EMS. It was part of the CEO Report and other items there, including the solar eclipse, were discussed, but not this. Seems to me that this violates the Texas Open Meetings Act, but no surprise with Ron Hankins as the board president, as he has had no problem in the past with violating TOMA. Also of interest is how, even though the budget at the hospital has had issues and had to be revised in January 2024 and the budget shows a deficit, CEO Honea still continues to look over the Somervell County Commissioners Court budget that HE HAS NO CONTROL OVER since the County and the Hospital District are TWO separate entities.

I thought Somervell County and Somervell County Hospital District had brought the absurd attempt to take over Somervell County’s EMS and 911 service with the agreement that was signed between Pecan Plantation Ambulance Service and Somervell County. In fact, from the Feb 26, 2024 Commissioners Court meeting, Judge Chambers made a motion which all voted for (video on that link from that meeting) to discontinue any further negotiations with GRMC (Somervell County Hospital District) in light of the memorandum of understanding (again on the link above).

And yet, in the March 26, 2024 meeting, Honea says he is going to reach out again to the subcommitttee that was jointly created between Somervell County and Somervell County Hospital District which seems to me to have been disbanded on Feb 26. Would not this have to be voted to create a subcommittee AGAIN since it appears Somervell County is out of this? In fact, yes. I asked Danny Chambers and Jeff Harris (who was on the subcommittee before it was disbanded by this vote), if the county commissioners court would have to explicitly re-start or recreate the subcommittee by having a new vote on it as an agenda item in a court meeting and the answer is yes. As Harris said, he certainly would not prevent any one from coming to talk with him one-on-one but not as part of the subcommittee which would have to, given the vote above, be re-formed. Note the text on the document above

Court discontinues any further negotiations with GRMC at this time; authorize to enter into MOU agreement with Pecan Plantation EMS.

According to Steve Willis, he shortly after this meeting on Feb 26, in which the particulars were discussed in executive session after which the commissioners court took a vote, called Michael Honea to let him know the outcome and spoke with Honea. (Possibly Danny Chambers did also). And yet, as you see below, he said after being asked by a couple of hospital board members why the county was able to do this without a vote and Honea said he was never contacted about anything. My question is why Honea didn’t tell the board the truth.

My guess, overall, on the reason why the Somervell County Hospital District is so hot and heavy with trying to appropriate EMS has to do with wanting a change to Glen Rose Medical Center being changed to a Critical Access Hospital. Honea in the March 26 meeting below, makes mention that they are going to put in an application to the Center for Medication and Medicaid and they believe they need to have X amounts of months of data to help seal the deal. Basically, they don’t fit the qualifications for same, so are trying to bully various elected officials into pulling for them to bypass the requirements as an exemption outside of the regulations. Letter excerpt from link above where CMS wrote back to Senator John Cornyn regarding this.

When I look at google maps to see the distance between Glen Rose Medical Center to Lake Granbury Medical Center, which is the closest hospital, and a trauma level 4 center, the distance via 144 is 15.5 miles and via FM 56 is 19.5 miles, far short of the requirement by CMS for 35 miles distance.

Remember this from the meeting-pre-hospital district that Gary Marks held in the citizens center in Feb 2009?

Meeting from Feb 27, 2024, the day AFTER the Commissioners Court voted (on Feb 26, 2024) to stop negotiations with the hospital. Again, EMS is NOT ON THE AGENDA, so the public would not know that Honea was going to bring this up for discussion.

Rough transcript: Watch the video for exact wording.

Honea: I don’t think there was actually a vote not to negotiate with the hospital anymore. .. we currently have a contract to do all of our transfers. If there’s a situation that arises that Pecan cannot, Somervell will take the transfers. As I explained to the judge that does not get us through our trauma situation and getting patients out of here in a timely manner. He did ask for the numbers on the trauma, no questions asked and we might be able to come to a long term agreement. I will recommend in the future if (as a board) if we want to discuss this publicly ‘

? : How did they decide not to do it without taking a vote. Margaret: Right they knew a contract was in the works from us

Honea: I was never contacted about anything. I think what happened, there were some numbers presented to Steve Willis from me, I had significant questions on the numbers. Number was 140,000 per person. Significantly differed from an ad put out in November salary was $56,000. Our agreement would be that we pay for benefits. I questioned those numbers. I went back to get clarifications on the numbers and was told there’s already a plan in place. Since there’s an agreement in place with Pecan, it’s no longer their concern. … One of the concerns of the judge currently is they cannot even staff what they need right now.

Bly: So what they want is this free deal. They don’t have to increase taxes

Honea: Well, it’s not free because the hospital district is paying Pecan. At the end of the day, taxpayer is paying, fair amount of money

? So is our first response to Pecan, not our own people

Honea. Because they don’t do transfers. Pecan is a very good ambulance service..going to increase salaries in Pecan. I don’t think their salaries are too far out of line. If board wants to call a meeting in the future to address this.

? Should we wait till after elections?

? No, need to get it out before the election

Honea: Checking for CMS every day on email

Drake: You did say that this agreement would impact our ability to have the level 4 trauma center

Honea: Has no impact on critical access. Agreement relying on Pecan 30 minutes but takes Pecan more than 30 minutes to get here.

Vacek: And in some ways, trauma is handled differently, we have to transfer trauma patients that are not critical. …Given the concerns about doing non-emergency transfers in their opinion, this arrangement will be a problem. They kicked the can down the road.

Honea: First group of numbers I got from the county, wanted to see more but have not been provided.

? I hope that our commissioners or judge have to face a trauma or EMS situation in their personal lives.

Hankins: That’s happened before and they transferred because it was a commissioner.

Bly: Did Steve Willis work up those figures or was Bryan Jones involved in doing that?

Honea: It’s my understanding that the figures were provided by the county HR.

Bly: Let me ask you this, do you think he’s qualified to negotiate this agreement

Honea: That’s why I asked for an itemized number. They put an ad out in November on social medic for a paramedic for 53,000 a year. … I just found those numbers kind of hard to justify.

Rough Transcript:-watch the video for exact wording.

Honea: Work on scheduling another meeting with county and subcommittee board that is in place and keep that conversation going. Midsummer trauma application, have to have 6-8 months of data to provide to them. We can explain and show what we’re doing. Concerns about emergency transfers.

Drake: What was the outcome of those letters?

Honea: Did not receive communications back from the judge. Salary structure ridiculous.

? They say they can’t keep people?

Vacek: The benefits aren’t too meaningful to someone that is 45.

Bly: Have you got all your answers from your FOIA request?

Honea: We are where we are right now but another subcommittee meeting conversation moving forward would benefit us.

Saying again that the vote was taken at Somervell County Commissioners Court and as far as the County is concerned, this is over at this time, even if Honea seeks to pull the wool over the eyes of board members. (Adding that the 2 board members who asked how Somervell County could decide to be done with SCHD without taking a vote were RIGHT; Somervell County VOTED on it.. Maybe the SCHD should press Honea for the facts next time and not allow him to obfuscate)

As a side note, I did an open records request asking for payments made by Somervell County Hospital District or Glen Rose Medical Center for Somervell County EMs between 2021-2024. Reply back from the very professional Sharla Wilson

I requested A/P to check our system to fulfill your request, below. After A/P’s review, they found no receipts, checks, credit card payments, invoices, emails or other documents showing payments made from Somervell County Hospital District or Glen Rose Medical Center to Somervell County (including the Fire/EMS service) for Somervell County ambulance service for the years 2021-2024.

******

Adding some open records referenced in the above video. Thank you to Danny Chambers re: request’

MIchael Honea re: Trauma Transfers (forwared on Feb 27 2024 to Danny Chambers

Michael Honea to Danny Chambers 3/5/2024

Michael Honea to the judge and commissioners on March 6, 2024

Quick comment on #2 in that email above. Michael Honea is alleging that Somervell County Commissioners Court violated TOMA by not being more explicit in the agenda listing for executive session. I don’t know that I disagree, would like to see that agendas indicate at least to some level what the heck they are talking about, BUT it’s pretty rich for a guy to be griping about violations of TOMA when he did the same thing in the February 27 meeting in his item for CEO Report which mentions nothing about the subject of EMS to be discussed.

Judge Chambers to Michael Honea on March 11, 2024 with 2 attachments

Danny Chambers to Michael Honea 3/21/2024

Michael Honea to Chambers and the Commissioners March 21, 2024

Here is something I wrote back in 2019 about the ambulance service and trauma levels. At that time, I looked it up and the DHHS site said that Glen Rose Medical Center license expired in 2013 and in 2019 they did not have Level 4 Trauma designation. (Compare that to Lake Granbury Medical Center.)

I cannot find where I wrote about this before, but I believe this is something that Gary Marks spoke about in one of his dog and pony shows regarding the first time the hospital district was attempted to pass (and failed). The idea was that it was a requirement of Comanche Peak to have a trauma level 4 hospital nearby to handle potential accidents, and this was used as a justification for keeping a hospital here. It may be that Comanche Peak no longer uses Glen Rose Medical Center but rather Lake Granbury Medical Center, which is right up the road on Hwy 56.  2019-FOUND the link from what I wrote before. 

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