By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
KYLE – If the Seton Family of Hospitals has its way, it will open an indigent health clinic in San Marcos even before it opens a new hospital in Kyle.
Herb Dyer, the project executive for Seton’s Kyle site, said a federal study has determined that Hays County is under-served, qualifying the area for a Federally Qualified Health Clinic (FQHC). Dyer told the Hays CISD trustees last week that Seton already has filed to open such a facility and expects to hear back from the federal government in August.
“We’ve identified that there is a need for two clinics,” Dyer told the Hays trustees. However, Dyer later said, it’s more likely Seton will be able to land one in the short term.
About the San Marcos FQHC, Dyer said, “We expect to have something on the ground at the end of this year or the middle of next year.” Seton’s Hays County hospital will open at IH-35 and Kyle Parkway in the fall of 2009.
Dyer said the FQHC’s likely location is at Central Texas Medical Center, which, he added “has space for a couple years.”
The availability of space at CTMC works well for the project, because, Dyer said, the greater need right now is in San Marcos. The location for a possible second clinic is still to be determined, as Dyer said the guidelines for opening a FQHC require that it be established at a location most convenient for the most possible under-served citizens.
Dyer surmised that such a location is likely to be somewhere east of IH-35 going through Buda and Kyle. Whether the initiative actually results in a second clinic or just an additional location for the first clinic also is yet to be determined.
FQHCs are supervised by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. FQHCs bring primary health care to under-served, under-insured and uninsured people, providing their services regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.
The program was federally funded for $2 billion in 2007. Dyer said Seton Hospitals performed $240 million of health care last year without compensation. According to the HRSA, 39.8 percent of health center patients in 2006 were uninsured, and another 35.1 percent were on Medicaid.
The need will only increase in Hays County, even with the Seton Hospital set to open in 2009, said Dyer, who added that the coming Kyle facility is expected to draw from a population of 300,000 by 2020. The Hays County population already has increased roughly 50 percent, much faster than hospital space, since 2000.
Dyer went to the Hays trustees just so he could inform them of the indigent health program and plant the idea that they could collaborate with Seton towards establishing a location in the Kyle-Buda area.
“We are planning to identify further steps that will help us build these clinics,” Dyer said.
Dyer said the federal study and the resulting application for a FQHC is an entirely different issue from the study of indigent health needs provided in the development agreement between Seton and Hays County. Dyer said the study of indigent health needs with Hays County has yet to be completed.