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Shelby County hospital closes; forces patients to drive - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Shelby County hospital closes; forces patients to drive

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tx. -

The only hospital in Shelby County, TX will be completely closed by noon Thursday.

The owner of Shelby Regional Medical Center, which is located on Highway 96 in Center, TX, decided it would close the doors after 45 years because of the loss of Medicaid and Medicare funding.

The closing means the more than 25,000 people who live in Shelby County will have to go to travel to get care. The closest hospital is 22 minutes away in San Augustine; Carthage is 31 minutes away; Nacogdoches 41 minutes. Across the border in Louisiana, Mansfield is almost an hour away. The medical staff is heart broken over the announcement.

"It's really hard," said Joyce Permenter, director of medical staff at Shelby Regional. "You don't know what's going to happen. You don't know who's going to need the care. There's a lot of people who's going to need us."

Permenter has worked at Shelby Regional for more than 30 years. She and more than 80 other employee got the news last night that the hospital will close.

Even though it is a small facility, Shelby Regional helps a lot of people each month.

"We still see an average of 7-800 ER visits, and that's a lot," she said. "Then we do about 300 outpatient visits."

Now it will be up to Ace EMS to provide the care for the entire county, even those would just walk in to Shelby Regional's emergency room.

"Those patients most likely, if they're in need of an emergency services, they're going to have to start calling ambulances," said Dale Alexander, co-owner of Ace EMS. "And they'll need us even more. We'll have to go even further to get them to where they need to be. In the mean time we will be looking at increasing efforts with personnel and trucks to accommodate that."

Permenter suggests taking people who live in Shelby County to take preventative steps now to help out in an emergency situation.

"Get out and get a CPR class. The classes are not difficult. They take a matter of about six hours to do. Or first aid; that can be included in it.'

She also said to find out what the closest emergency room is to you and have a plan. 

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