HENRIETTA (KFDX/KJTL) — Many community members and hospital employees think it’s time for Clay County Memorial Hospital to be able to provide better care for medical emergencies.

“I think we just have to improve the level of care that we’re able to give. We send patients everywhere but to us. We’re technically a band-aid station, and we have the potential to be so much more,” Clay County Memorial Hospital Employee Tiffany Hoff said.

Clay County Commissioners met and discussed the 2022-2023 budget for Clay County Memorial Hospital, but auditors predict that if the hospital doesn’t make serious changes in three to five years, it’ll be closing its doors.

“We have survived off of intergovernmental transfers and handouts from the federal government. Last year, unfortunate as it was with the pandemic, if we hadn’t had gotten the million dollars from the federal government for COVID relief money, we would’ve finished three-fourths of a million in a hole because we don’t have patients,” Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde said.

Last October, the hospital administration underwent administrative changes, and the staff has seen positive alterations like increases in pay, but the hospital is still not capable of providing adequate care for people in need.

“We don’t have the ER capability, staff of physicians to bring trauma patients to our hospital. 62% of everyone who gets in our ambulances ends up in Wichita Falls. It’s very profitable for them, but not for us,” Lyde said.

The solution the Clay County Memorial Hospital board has come up with is to sign a contract with ACP to better the care they can offer. As of now, doctors in the hospital are not required to be board certified.

“The acute care physicians is a physicians group of residency trained, board-certified, emergency room physicians which is something we don’t have here, and quite frankly, you don’t have a whole lot of them at United Regional either,” Lyde said.

Some commissioners feel like this contract is being shoved down their throats, but some feel the debate about the right thing to do for the hospital is being driven by emotions of three parties: the county commission, the hospital board and the community.

“What I wanted today was an open discussion between the Clay County Commissioners Court and the Clay County Memorial Hospital Board, so that we can have some questions that have been lingering out there. The accusations that were made, so that we can have both parties come to the table and have an open and honest conversation,” Clay County Commissioner Retta Collins said.

The agenda also included to make a decision whether to remove the hospital board as a whole. The county decided to table this topic for a later date.