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Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - April 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company
Bluis seeks TMHD seat
Trinity Standard -


TRINITY – Retired school administrator Carlyn Bluis is seeking election to the Position 6 seat on the Trinity Memorial Hospital District’s board of directors. Bluis was appointed to the TMHD post in November 2008 following the resignation of longtime board member Gordon Cotton. She is being challenged by Ted Garrison in the May 8 election. A resident of the Westwood Shores subdivision near Trinity, Bluis retired after a 40-year career in education that including teaching chemistry and physics at the high school and college level. She also served as a high school principal and assistant superintendent in the Tomball Independent School District. After retiring from the Tomball ISD, she served for nine years on the Tomball School Board. While in Tomball, she also was a member of the Tomball Economic Development Council and served on a number of state committees dealing with education. Bluis earned a master’s degree from DePaul University in Chicago and a doctorate from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Although she and her family have been visiting the Trinity area since the late 1970s, they have had a weekend home here since 1995 and have been full-time residents since 2002. She has been a member of the Westwood Shores Property Owners Association board for the past eight years and currently serves as its president. Bluis and her husband, Robert, have a daughter who is currently serving in the U.S. Navy and a son who is employed by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Because her father was a public heath service physician, Bluis moved around the country a great deal while growing up. “We like to say we moved to Texas as soon as we could and have been here ever since,” she said. Because of her father’s service as a doctor, Bluis said she became involved as a volunteer as local hospitals and came to realize just how important local medical care can be in rural areas such as Trinity. “There is a need for hospitals such as the one we have here in Trinity and I have a strong commitment to making sure that quality health care is available in our community,” Bluis said. She noted that her experience with the Tomball school system gave her a background in both long range planning, budgeting and communication, three skills she said are important to have as a member of the TMHD board. “The communication aspect is important because it is vital that we both listen to what the community is saying and let the community know what is being done with their hospital,” she said. She noted that while she is among the newest members of the TMHD board, she has been proud to help complete the projects that are now underway. Included on that list is a new 15-bed patient wing and surgical suite set to begin construction later this year. Using a federal program called Upper Payment Limits (UPL), she said the hospital board has been able to convert essentially $2.3 million into about $10 million in new facilities, which also includes a new clinic and emergency room waiting area as well as a completely remodeled emergency room. She noted that the state law creating TMHD was passed by the legislature in 1981 and after years of struggling, they managed to obtain a long-term lease agreement for the Tyler-based East Texas Medical Center group to manage the facility. Since that time, both ETMC and TMHD have been working to improve both the hospital facilities and quality of care, she said. “We’re not looking at creating a big medical center here but we do need to provide the people with quality care,” she noted. Bluis said that in 1997 when TMHD leased the hospital to ETMC, the hospital district agreed to pay $300,000 a year – or $25,000 per month – to help cover the cost of providing medical care to indigent patients. Noting that providing health care to the indigent residents of the district is required by law, Bluis said she felt the $300,000 was money well spent. “We pay $25,000 per month for indigent care and based on the figures we are now receiving from ETMC, the community is getting more than its money’s worth,” she said. According to the ETMC figures, during January the local hospital provided $220,000 in free or reduced cost care under two programs designed to benefit the needy. Those who qualify under the indigent program receive free care while those who don’t quite meet the economic standards as indigents can often qualify for reduced cost care under the ETMC charity program. “I often ask people to go to the new clinic, the hospital or to a hospital board meeting and to judge for themselves if we are making good use of their 18.32 cents per $100 valuation in taxes that they are paying.” She noted the recent improvement to the hospital facility were paid for out of a reserve fund that had been built up over the years and did not require a bond election or tax increase. Instead, with the construction of a new patient wing/surgical suite area set to begin, the hospital board is in the process of lowering the tax rate. They already have approved a 10 percent cut in the 2010 tax rate and have agreed in principal to another 10 percent cut for 2011. Bluis said addition cuts could be made in the future once the board determines what the hospital’s financial needs will be. Bluis said it was “sound financial planning” on the part of the TMHD board that allowed this to happen. “The board has been cost conscious and very careful with the taxpayer’s money,” she said.

 

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