With an inaudible snip, Dr. Imre J. Kocsis sliced through a ribbon of red crepe paper strung up between two columns outside of 1303 N. Mound St. Friday afternoon.
While the act of cutting the ribbon itself was a small gesture, the event marked what some hope will be a significant change in what medical care is offered to Nacogdoches County residents.
The St. Alyssa Medical Center Rural Health Clinic is intended to be a kind of one-stop-shop for East Texans in need of healthcare, regardless of what kind of insurance they have if any, said Michael Bishop, the facility’s chief operating officer.
The facility, housed in a 12,200-square-foot former cardiac center, is a nonprofit initiative, which, when it officially opens on March 3, will offer broad range of services on site, including lab testing and day surgeries.
The idea is that people will be able to be diagnosed, tested and treated at a single location, which Bishop said he thinks will ultimately be less expensive not only for patients, but for everyone involved in medical care.
“I, as a patient, get so sick and tired of the referral system,” Bishop said. “You’re going in circles. It’s a mess.”
The only thing the clinic expects it to have to send out of the facility is pap smear tests, he said.
Bishop said he expects the clinic to accept all insurances, Medicare and Medicaid and be available to uninsured individuals as well, in part because it will offer a sliding billing scale.
The clinic also plans to take TRICARE, Bishop said.
“We’re trying to get this open to help everybody regardless of their insurance,” he said.
Though there are still weeks before the doors open to the public, the clinic has already secured more than a dozen staff members, Bishop said.
Bishop said they will seek accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, meaning it will be a facility in which doctors can be trained.
In fact, the clinic is the first step in what Bishop hopes to establish, which included future plans for medical education in East Texas.
During Friday’s ribbon cutting, Bishop said he was planning to close on six acres on North Street in Nacogdoches on which a 30-bed, in-patient psychiatric hospital and a 20-bed addiction medicine facility is expected to be built.
He hopes to open those facilities in October or November this year, he said.
In the next two to three years, Bishop has plans to open a teaching hospital in Alto, he said.
St. Alyssa’s mission is partly faith based, though the it is non-denominational, Bishop said, and that basis is an assurance for him.
“When your heart’s in the right place and you’re taking care of people, you’ll be taken care of,” he said.
This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Dr. Irme Kocsis' name.