Wharton’s Gulf Coast Med. Center Stops Accepting Ambulance Patients and Plans to File for Bankruptcy

by San Antonio Attorney

Gulf Coast Medical Center in Wharton, Texas recently stopped accepting patients transported by ambulance.  The only hospital in the area is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Although the emergency room still accepts patients, hospital officials say they can only take walk-ins.

According to the supervisor of Emergency Medical Services, Christy Gonzales, they are stressed out by the current situation because they have to spend more time to reach the nearest emergency room.

John Kowalik, the Wharton Emergency Services Director, says the patients started being redirected six months ago.  The closest emergency room available is El Campo Memorial which is about 20 minutes travel, or Oak Bend Medical Center, which is about 33 minutes travel in Richmond.  Kowalik says that it is worrying when every second counts in emergency situations.

He is very concerned about the people in the area who need emergency care.

Since Gulf Cost began redirecting ambulances, the total time taken for ambulances between calls has almost tripled.  The city has hired more EMS crews to make up for the major adjustment – but the $16,000 additional monthly expense is paid by taxpayers.

City Mayor Tim Barker said the arrangement may not be good enough, but right now there is no other option.

A representative for the hospital says they are processing their bankruptcy petition.   Chief Restructuring Officer Alan Tuft said the process is slower that they thought it would be.

About the bankruptcy filing, Tuft said Gulf Coast is struggling to operate as an independent and small health care institution.

It should be noted that the owner of Gulf Coast has a history of money problems somewhere else.

Officials at the hospital said the proceedings of Chapter 11 could be carried out in one month.  Officials at the Oak Bend Medical Center have confirmed that they are finding a space for the facility and probably reopen the hospital and emergency room.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: