By Alton Porter
A new medical care facility is coming to Grapeland the first of March.
Grapeland Urgent Care, a facility to be owned by a Houston-area partnership composed of Champions Urgent Care along with its parent company Rose-Rich EM Physicians, P.A., is scheduled to open in the former nursing home building located at 205 Church Street around Mar. 1.
That's the word from Champions Urgent Care's Chief Financial Officer Dick McNairy and the entity's board-certified family medicine Nurse Practitioner Joe Tumalad, who spoke with the Courier about their plans for the Grapeland facility Thursday, Jan. 4.
Tumalad, who owns property in the Grapeland area and is relocating there where he will be a full-time resident, will serve in the clinic, which will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, helping provide primary care. Dr. Tuan Nguyen of Houston, who will be the primary medical provider in the town and community, will be the facility's medical director.
Tumalad will be on-call to provide counseling at times when the clinic is closed. Hours of operation might be extended in the future based upon the volume and need, McNairy said. "Joe is dedicated to community concerns and has a really good heart for the people."
The facility will accept Medicare, Medicaid, 90 percent of commercial insurance providers and workers compensation, Tumalad said. It will be housed in the 18,000-square-feet former Grapeland Nursing Center, Inc., building.
The Courier first reported there was new life ahead for the facility in the newspaper's Jan. 8, 2017, edition following an interview with Grapeland Mayor Balis Dailey about a $350,000 grant the city had received to do roof and related repairs on the building.
The grand opening of the facility is slated Mar. 24, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the entire community is invited to attend, McNairy and Tumalad noted.
There will be plenty of treats provided for adults and children—including barbecue and games—at the event. Event attendees also will be given the opportunity to tour the facility at that time.
The event's purpose is "to inform the community that we're here and what we have to offer," McNairy said. He said the clinic will be open to patients from the entire Houston County area, and also Groveton and Trinity in Trinity County.
"Rose-Rich EM Physicians is a partnership in Houston of doctors who are in ER (emergency room) and urgent care and other medical facilities," McNairy told the Courier, in explaining their plans.
"In (March) 2016, we purchased Joe's business, Champions Urgent Care in North Houston, to basically branch out into what we do. We basically have been in freestanding ERs. We've been in hospital groups.
"So, we've been running that business since March 2016. Joe has been a very principal part of that. He was looking for property and settled on this area. While he was up in this area, he got to meet some of the people who are in the Grapeland area.
"And they basically talked to Joe about the fact there are no medical facilities within a 25-mile radius of there and asked if he and his team would consider doing a clinic there."
McNairy continued, "So, Joe brought the story back to me, since he was going to buy property in the area and would basically run and be a provider in the center. And so, we entered into a discussion with the City (of Grapeland officials) and with (representatives of) Vulcraft-Nucor, which is a large company that's in the area.
"And between the two of them, we entered two agreements, one a medical services agreement with Vulcraft to provide services for their employee base, as well as, to open up the clinic for the community.
"So, the city has a nursing facility (the Church Street property) that they inherited from 2012. It's been abandoned, and they wanted to renovate that and make it a medical complex. We will be the first tenant.
"So, on the east—we've actually entered into a lease. It hasn't been finalized yet, but it's going to happen. We're all committing funds to doing things already—2,600-square-feet on the east wing of that facility that they're renovating so we can open up what we're going to call Grapeland Urgent Care."
And the rest of the facility is going to be available if they expand into physical therapy and imaging, for example, and other medical-type services eventually."He added, "So, between that and Vulcraft, it made a right business decision for us. And Joe would be the management there since he's got the experience. And so, we would open up, hopefully, around the first of March, the target date. We're actually going to have an openhouse on Saturday, the 24th of March.
"We're in the process of making relationships with the hospitals in the area—Tyler, Lufkin, Palestine—so that we can facilitate transfers from the clinic of patients who have higher medical requirements than urgent care. So, we're building those relationships in those particular areas so that we know the surgeons or the hospital groups, (et cetera) in those areas who can actually put people into beds."
McNairy explained, "At this point in time, most of the business will come from the dedication to Vulcraft.... However, there's a new business (Darling Ingredients, Inc.) going into town. It's a pet food business. And the mayor has talked to them about the fact that we are kind of a primary care as well as a family care as well as an urgent care at this point.
"So, we're starting out on that profile. We could expand, based upon what we see from the traffic, the volume. We are not an ER.... But, one thing we can do, that we are offering to the city and the people there, is that we can facilitate the admission into the hospitals without going through ER, which saves a lot of expense and time."
He said, "We will have X-ray capability, so we can do chest X-rays and (examination of) extremities. We'll do lacerations, colds, laboratory work, DOT (Texas Department of Transportation) and school and sports physicals, all those kinds of things. The initial staffing at the facility will be comprised of three or four people, which could grow."
To begin with, the facility will have three examination rooms and lobbies for grownups and children.
Rose-Rich EM Physicians, P.A., also staffs the OakBend Medical Center in Houston, which has two hospitals in the southwest area of the city and is taking over a third one, Gulf Coast Regional Hospital, in Wharton, said McNairy. The company has nine doctors.
Grapeland Urgent Care will be the company's latest addition, and though it will initially be under the umbrella of Champions Urgent Care, it eventually will be its own legal entity.
Champions Urgent Care's website is champions-urgentcare.com.