Local Neighbors Emergency Center among freestanding clinic closures statewide

WICHITA FALLS - After more than a year of business in Wichita Falls, another freestanding emergency room clinic closed its doors for good Tuesday. This is one of seven other facilities the Neighbors Emergency Center has now closed across the state this year.

As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, the emergency center closed their location on the corner of Kell Boulevard and another one in Tyler, Texas. This is after the facility in San Angelo recently closed at the end of Sept. and one of two in Amarillo shut its doors earlier that month.

"We consider every patient an honor and it's been a year and a half that we've been in the Wichita Falls market, we saw thousands of patients. We really did," NEC public relations specialist Denise Hahn said.

Despite serving more than 3000 patients in the Wichita Falls area, Hahn says the city and surrounding communities already have a lot of access to care, leading up to the Houston-based clinic's closure.

"They have choices and they have hospitals. They have urgent care and luckily,  they have freestanding emergency centers," Hahn said. "Unfortunately for us, that means a compression within the market. It's also been a statewide industry compression that's going on as well."

Hahn says many free-standing emergency centers have had to scale back in some cities for this reason and also due to insurance setbacks across the state.

"Also tremendous amount of push back from insurance companies in Texas that make insurance reimbursements very difficult. So with all of those factors coming in together, it just was not feasible anymore," Hahn said.

"We're lobbying very strongly in Washington D.C. so that federal government can permit us to see patients with Medicare and Medicaid," Dr. Rodrigo Menchaca said.
 
Menchaca is one of the owners of locally owned and operated clinic ER Now, which sits on Southwest Parkway. It's the third freestanding emergency room to come to Wichita Falls six months ago. Although there are federal setbacks with insurance plans and freestanding clinics, Menchaca says things are going well at their facility.

"Most facilities like this mature at about 15 to 16 patients per day," Menchaca said. "That keeps the influx of patients nice and easy without any waiting times." Menchaca says the sudden rise in emergency rooms do not have to do with the competition of the clinics but to give communities different options when it comes to urgent care.

With the recent closures of Neighbors Emergency Centers in Texas, there are now 24 left across the state. 


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