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Llano County Hospital Authority is on track to receive a Critical Access Hospital designation, a certification that would provide financial support to the organization for caring for traditional Medicare patients.

The news comes as LCHA prepares to transfer management of the Llano hospital from Baylor Scott & White Health to MidCoast Health System in January.

The authority reviewed the hospital’s application for a Critical Access Hospital designation during a Thursday, Dec. 17, meeting. Along with the application, the authority reviewed the outcome of a recent inspection upon which the CAH application was contingent.

It found that while a formal letter issuing the CAH designation was forthcoming, the authority had received an informal letter stating that the hospital was on track to receiving the designation. The inspection went favorably, and few changes had to be made following its completion.

“The critical access letter has been approved and the inspection has been done, and, as of today, all of the requested items have been resolved,” said Llano County Hospital Authority Board secretary Charles Miller.

“We’re waiting then for the actual letter, the final letter coming in.” Miller added. “We don’t know because of the holidays if it’ll be this week, next week, when it’ll come in.” 

The U.S. Congress established the CAH designation in 1997 to financially support rural hospitals. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services determine if a facility meets CAH requirements.

The hospital faced a tight deadline to receive the certification before MidCoast Health System is set to take control of the hospital from Baylor Scott & White Health in January. Though the application process began in September, the inspection and review alone could take as many as 60 days to complete.

In July, Baylor Scott & White Health notified the LCHA it would not be renewing its operational contract for the Llano hospital when it expires at the end of 2020. Baylor Scott & White had served as the operator of the facility in spite of financial losses for a number of years. The not-for-profit health system continued to serve the community at a financial loss to be sure residents received care.

The loss was no longer sustainable, so the health system has decided not to renew.  

MidCoast Health is set to take the hospital into its system at the beginning of January 2021. The two-hospital, 15-clinic system is based out of El Campo.

“The transition seems to have been OK, and the hospital will continue to operate Jan. 1 by MidCoast,” Miller said.

The LCHA also saw its EMS change during this time from Baylor Scott & White to Hamilton EMS. The hospital board has signed an agreement with the Hamilton County Hospital District to provide emergency medical services beginning Jan. 1, 2021.