Full-Service Hospital May Return To Gilmer

The elevator doors open on empty hallways and empty rooms. Gilmer had an inpatient hospital for years... but has done without it for much of the last decade.

But now there's progress... and a plan for East Texas Medical Center to open the 32 rooms for inpatient care.

Instead of transferring to Tyler or Longview, those who need a hospital room here will get one.

The ER is stocked and ready, it's open 24/7, but for several years, that wasn't the case. Patients had to go 20 miles away to get emergency care.

ER Nurse Carla Harston worked at the hospital before it closed. She works there again.

"It was very traumatic at that point because there were patients that were not in a medical condition where they could not make the transfer to Longview."

The hospital, then owned by Columbia/HCA Healthcare closed in 1995. ETMC opened the ER in 1997. But if patients had to stay long... they couldn't stay here. All because of a property deed restriction that said just that.

That restriction is no longer.

Harston: "It's tough for the family members when a patient has to be transported 20 miles away for them to be able to visit while they're hospitalized, that's a very important time for families."

Not to mention, smaller crowds.

Zelma Long used to go to Longview to see a doctor. Now she's here.

"I got in and got out quicker than I did two days ago, you'd have to wait four and five hours."

The wait for full services may be until the end of the year... but the hope is by then those who need care here won't have to leave home.