East Texas Children's Clinic Loses Doctor, Now Two Clinics in a Bind

Two East Texas clinics that serve the less fortunate, one for children and the other for adults, could soon find themselves in a real bind.

St. Paul Children's Clinic in Tyler, an extension of the Smith County Health District is losing it's full-time pediatrician. That could have a ripple effect on the adult treatment clinic.

Amber Nettles brought her two little ones, Ember and Lydia, to the St. Paul Children's clinic for their well-check-ups. It's the only place in smith county she can afford.

"Without this place, I would be spending an arm and a leg at emergency rooms, I couldn't afford that," says Amber Nettles. "And this place gives me a break and I am able to afford it and get them care."

Fortunately they've been patients at St. Paul Children's Clinic, for more than a year.  Because now there's a hold on new patients there and at the Smith County Health District's adult Treatment Clinic.

A pediatrician leaving is leaving a gap!

"I am not as worried about St Paul's Children's Clinic as I am about the Treatment Clinic," says Dr. Stephen Garrison, Medical Director. "I am also a board certified pediatrician."

"The reason we are even talking about the adult is if Dr. Garrison is over here an extra day and a half a week and he was doing adult care at that time so we're going to have a little downsizing over in the adult side," says Nick Sciarrini, Smith County Health Disctrict.

One of the challenges at the Smith County Health District is finding a pediatrician willing to take the $110,000 dollar doctor salary to make sure the less fortunate of Smith County get healthcare.

"What we need to happen is to be able to afford physicians that would want to come here and I have tried over the last weeks," says Dr. Garrison.

70% of the two clinic's funding comes from the state to serve their 20,000-25,000 patients, but it's still not enough.

"The funding doesn't necessarily have to come from city or county, why can't it come from one of the hospitals, for reducing their ER care, why can't it come from foundations," says Sciarrini.

Until then, the doctors and nurses can only take care of current patients like Ember and Lydia the best they can.

Dana Dixon Reporting