Medical Center Marks Opening of New Branch
By Desirée Evans
Published January 17, 2007
BRAZORIA - Although the Brazoria branch of the Brazosport Medical Center has seen patients since the beginning of December, it ceremoniously opened its doors Tuesday morning with an official ribbon cutting.
“I’ve been to a tremendous amount of ribbon-cutting ceremonies,” said Brazoria Mayor Ken Corley, “but this is the first one I’ve been to that is going to have such an impact on the community."
The Brazoria branch, which is located in the fourth-grade wing of the old Brazoria Elementary School, was the idea of Brazoria Heritage Foundation members, who leased the wing to the medical center for $1 per year for the next 20 years, said Bob Schwebel, the foundation’s president.
After negotiating for about a year, members of the medical center’s board and the foundation reached an agreement in early 2006, but money still was needed to remodel the building. That goal was reached when the medical center landed a $75,000 grant from the United Way.
“Brazoria didn’t have any kind of medical facility at all,” Schwebel said. “They didn’t have a doctor or anything at that point, and we have a lot of people that are lower income or Medicare and Medicaid, and I saw the need in the community for that. So we kind of approached the Brazosport Medical Center about forming a branch in Brazoria.”
There is a need for the Brazoria branch, and there are about 5,000 medically eligible individuals in the Brazoria service area, said Father Michael Gemignani of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Freeport, also a former member of the medical center’s board.
Gemignani, who originally petitioned for the grant for the Brazosport Medical Center, said they hope to eventually open a center in West Columbia.
“This is important to the community,” said Billye Downing, the publicity chairwoman for the Brazoria Heritage Foundation and Museum. “We have been under served for a very long time. When they start taking insurance, I’ll come here, too.”
The Brazoria branch is focusing only on medical service for now, said Nola Copus, executive director of the Brazosport Medical Center.
Frances McCaulley, the nurse practitioner at the Brazoria branch, said she will provide primary care for wellness and chronic illnesses to people of all ages. The center is geared mostly toward people on Medicare and Medicaid. McCaulley has been doing this kind of work for 51?2 years.
“I’m a Christian and I enjoy helping people,” McCaulley said. The number of patients she sees is slowly increasing, she said. On both days the center was open last week, she saw six to eight people, half of whom were covered by Medicare or Medicaid with the other half being patients who paid with cash, McCaulley said.
“I’m currently taking walk-ins and I don’t turn anyone away,” she said.
John Smith III, chairman of the medical center’s board of directors, said one of the missions of the center is not to turn away anyone, regardless of their financial status.
“If you can pay, you can pay, but if you cannot pay we will not turn you away,” Smith said. “There will be some fee, but it will be something that is within their means. We are just really excited that we could make this all come together and provide this service to the community.”
Lucrecy Stromae, a Brazoria resident who has been coming to the center since it first opened, said she was treated for high blood pressure and that she is feeling much better.
“She is wonderful,” Stromae said referring to McCaully. “Just do what she tells you and everything will be OK.”
Desirée Evans covers Brazoria for The Facts. Contact her at (979) 237-0152.
8 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Thursdays
Brazoria School Civic Center and Museum
202 Smith St., fourth-grade wing
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