E. Texans try to keep heartbeat of a town alive - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

E. Texans try to keep heartbeat of a town alive

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email

GRAND SALINE, TX (KLTV) – Just over a week ago, KLTV broke the news of the layoffs at Cozby Germany Hospital in Grand Saline. Those layoffs add up to about a fifth of the hospital's workforce, and now, the community is looking for new hospital leadership.

A group of East Texans is trying to keep the heartbeat of a town alive.

"People want to know what is going on—the truth," one former employee exclaimed.

They are the East Texans now out of a job, who are dedicating themselves to another.

"As a committee, we need to come up with a plan to move forward and make some positive changes," said former employee Cynthia Garcia.

"I have not met with one person in this entire community that is for leaving this board in place," says Kelly Scarborough.

Until two weeks ago, they worked at Grand Saline's Cozby Germany Hospital.

"Laid off, I quit, I was fired… I don't know what I was because I never was really told," said former physician's assistant Jerry Crane.

Hospital Management says lack of profits prompted the cuts, targeting office positions.

"A lot of the cuts were at the high end management," said Crane.

Now a former Chief of Staff, ex-Nursing Director, and past physician's assistant lead a mission to reclaim a hospital they say is rightfully theirs.

"We need to make sure the public hears about the lease agreement and all of the breaches," said former employee Cynthia Garcia. "As far as we know, it still belongs to the citizens of Grand Saline."

A hospital of the people, a claim they back through pages in Cozby Germany Hospital's 1944 Charter.

It's pages explain any change to the hospital must go through a Board of Trustees.

"What do you say, if you say you want a new board, let's vote for it," said former Chief of Staff Dr. Richard Ingrim.

That's exactly what they plan to do, starting first with petitions passed through town.

The petition is asking for the resignation of five of the six current Board Members, already operating well under the ten member requirement.

"It's not all about us, it's about the community and the hospital. It belongs to the community and it depends on that hospital," says Naomi Gardener, "We need this hospital in the community, just for the fact that we have so many people that utilize it.

Take back the board, and the group says they can end long lasting financial problems.

"We didn't know one day if we would have toilet paper available, one day if we would have the appropriate medicines to give," said Crane.

Management says the hospital is current on bills, and layoffs haven't affected patient service. But, when KLTV visited the hospital's rural clinic, we found its doors locked.

For former employees, they say a pink slip isn't going to stop them from making sure their community gets the healthcare it needs.

"If we can't make it go, then somewhere along the road, we're going to have to say it's a dying ember, let it die. But, until that ember goes out, I think there's a spark there that we can build on," said Ingrim.

A spark a few East Texans say they hope burns into the hearts of a loyal community.

Residents of Grand Saline are having their first town hall meeting Monday to discuss the future of the hospital. It is open to all interested in the hospital. That meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Grand Saline Pavilion.


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Copyright 2011 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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