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Practice Management BY SEAN PRICE


Crisis in the country


WHAT CAN RURAL PHYSICIANS AND THEIR COMMUNITIES DO WHEN THE LOCAL HOSPITAL SHUTS DOWN?


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The Gulf Coast Medical Center’s slow demise greatly changed health care options in the small town of Wharton, which is southwest of Houston.


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n 2016, the Gulf Coast Medical Center in Wharton passed away after a long ill-


ness. It was survived by a town of nearly 9,000 people with no near- by hospital. “Since they shut it down, there’s


been a huge impact on the com- munity,” said Gregg Dimmick, MD, a pediatrician who practiced in Wharton for 37 years before re- tiring in July. “For all your after- hours minor injuries, you [used to] go to the [Wharton] emer- gency room. But now if you’ve got an after-hours injury, it’s a 20- or 30-minute drive [to the nearest hospital]. And not everybody has transportation.” Local physicians also have felt the impact in lost business and greater difficulty serving patient


PHOTOS BYMATT WRIGHTSTEEL November 2017 TEXAS MEDICINE 55


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