Residents voice concerns about Central Health spending

Seton Family of Hospitals has agreed to reimburse Central Health for utility upgrades at its downtown campus.

Seton Family of Hospitals has agreed to reimburse Central Health for utility upgrades at its downtown campus.

Emotions ran high at a community forum hosted by Germane Solutions, an independent consultancy forum conducting a performance review of Travis County Health District, doing business as Central Health.

The firm hosted the forum to gain community feedback about Central Health at the Mexican American Cultural Center on Tuesday evening.

Four residents shared input with the firm. All spoke about how Central Health uses taxes.

Here’s what the four residents shared:

1.Central Health should not provide funding to Dell Medical School


Local attorney Fred Lewis said he believes Central Health has broken the law by providing $35 million annually to The University of Texas Dell Medical School.

He said state law dictates that Central Health—which he says has a mission to provide health care to poor people—is not allowed to spend taxpayer money on medical education.

“Central Health has lost its way and lost its mission,” he said. “Tens of thousands of people in this city have not received health care. It is a travesty, it is a tragedy and it is wrong.”

2.Central Health does not provide adequate health care to eastern Travis County


Rebecca Birch, a representative from Del Valle ISD, said Central Health has done nothing to help residents in eastern Travis County.

Her husband, Richard Franklin, echoed that opinion. A throat cancer survivor, he said he believes if there had been a closer clinic to his home he would have sought help sooner. Once diagnosed, he traveled 22 miles every day for two months to receive treatment.

Franklin said Central Health has visited his neighborhood four separate times to conduct surveys and seek feedback, but the community has not yet seen any improvements in health services.

“We need help, and we need it right now,” Franklin said. “People are dying.”

Both Birch and Franklin said they were frustrated to see Central Health invest in projects like Dell Medical School and the Capital City Innovation District when they feel that residents have not received adequate health care.

3.Central Health has lost sight of its original mission


Frank Rodriguez, former Central Health Board of Managers vice chairman, spoke on behalf of the Latino Quality of Life Commission.

He said the commission did a study of Central Health and found that while the organization has accomplished great things, it has lost sight of its mission to serve the underserved in Austin.

“Its doing good work, but I don’t know if it’s connected to its original mission,” Rodriguez said. “With limited dollars, it should focus on its mission.”

Residents have one other opportunity to provide feedback to the firm on Wednesday at the Mexican American Cultural Center. That forum will be conducted in Spanish. Residents who cannot attend can send their comments to feedback@bbimaging.net.

Germane Solutions said it will provide its findings to the public in mid-January.
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