Culberson Hospital turns 50

-From the VHA archives.
-From the VHA archives.

In 1970, Culberson County Hospital was built, after a number of defeats in voting for the hospital. The original 25-bed structure was made possible with a $299,000 Hill-Burton grant, a $284,000 loan from Housing and Urban Development, and a $125,000 County Bond issue. At first, the facility was operated by Culberson County under the supervision of the Hospital Board. Culberson Hospital has serviced the 4-county area including Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, and Presidio counties for 50 years.

In 1968, independent consultants from Dallas, submitted a feasibility report to determine the need for a hospital and that necessary factors were in place to justify and support a hospital in Van Horn. One factor considered was the development of a $26 million sulphur mine that promised more than 80 new families in the community. The availability of personnel and accessibility of facilities in the area were other contributing factors at the time. The land for the hospital, located in the northeast part of Van Horn was donated by the Fred Clark Estate.

A facility assessment completed in 2007 revealed that the mid-century structure no longer met current hospital building codes and was neither sized nor configured to efficiently accommodate the services provided, or for the planned addition of new services. The Culberson County Hospital District Board took their concerns to the county taxpayers in May 2008 and received overwhelming support for the issuance of $7.5 million in bonds to construct a new addition to the hospital, provide for the purchase of needed new equipment, and make any renovations to the existing building that the budget would allow.

About $6.2 million of the funds raised were used to construct and equip a 14,500 square foot addition to the hospital, including a new inpatient unit, an imaging suite including general radiology and CT to meet the needs of inpatients, swing bed patients, outpatients, and emergency patients, and an Emergency department with 2 major treatment rooms and 3 minor treatment rooms. Remaining funds were used to renovate the north side of the original hospital building adding automatic doors at the main entrance, and a new, larger physical therapy area. The admissions area was also updated with a new reception desk and a private cubicle for patient interviews, a comfortable waiting area, and accessible restrooms.

Culberson Hospital is classified as a special acute care hospital, licensed by the State of Texas and certified by Medicare as a “Critical Access” hospital, providing care for over 700 patients a year. The hospital is licensed for 14 inpatient acute beds, all of which may be used as “swing beds” or skilled nursing beds under Critical Access regulations. The hospital provides critical emergency and ambulance services for Culberson County residents and visitors. In addition, area residents can obtain a wide range of inpatient and outpatient health care services at the hospital, minimizing the need to travel long distances for health care. This is particularly important for older patients and their families who find travel to other communities very difficult.

Although the community has always been supportive of the hospital and rural health clinic, operating these facilities was a challenging task. Faced with the closure of the hospital in 2004, the District Board entered into a partnership with Preferred Management Corporation of Shawnee, Oklahoma, to lease the hospital and clinic, and assume the financial risk of operations. Preferred invested the resources necessary to update equipment, recruit quality healthcare professionals, and implement sound financial management practices which stabilized operations and established the foundation for today’s thriving healthcare enterprise.

The Culberson Hospital District Board worked toward the construction of a new 6,800 square foot Van Horn Rural Health Clinic to replace the modular building previously used. An area was also designated for an in-house pharmacy. Final improvements to the facade and parking lots are nearing completion.

Contributions from Preferred Management.