A new hospital will soon serve residents of Clarksville, Texas.
Clarksville has been without a hospital since East Texas Medical Center closed in December 2014.
But that absence will be filled by Clarksville General Hospital, set to break ground soon, with construction taking several months.
"This hospital is definitely meeting a genuine need of the community," said Dr. A.J. Hashmi, whose specialty is cardiology. "Without having local care of this sort, patients in need have had to be transported elsewhere. Some have died making these trips. With a local hospital to care for them, we will be able to get them the help they need much faster."
Clarksville is a small town with a population of 3,176 in 2014.
"Clarksville has been underserved in this area, and we mean to do something about it," Hashmi said. "We have put together the resources necessary to get this hospital going. We have $30 million in loans and investments that will get this hospital going."
Hashmi, who earned his doctorate from Yale in 1993, operates the Heart Clinic of Paris, Texas. He said Clarksville residents need a general practice hospital to handle basic medical needs and common emergencies. The new 40-bed hospital, which can be expanded based on need and resources, is intended to do just that.
"Not having a hospital nearby is a problem," Hashmi said, and it isn't just for the obvious community medical need.
"Clarksville, like any small town, wants to attract more families, as well as businesses and industries," he said. "All of those, especially businesses, will want to know what facilities are nearby for them, in case they need it. Industries will be interested in nearby medical care, should they have an emergency."
Mayor Ann Rushing said she feels the same way.
"We feel the the hospital will breathe life into this community," she said. "The economic stimulus, the jobs created, pulling people to our city with a regional heart center and a state-of-the-art hospital with the latest technology providing services with some of the finest doctors will be just what we need. Our nursing homes, our industries have felt the hardship of being without a hospital, as has LifeNet, who has been transporting so many people to the various surrounding hospitals. To us, it is quality of life, it is sustainability, and it is a blessing.
"Not having a nearby hospital has been a struggle. Since ETMC pulled out, things have been hard. We have felt that on so many levels. The nearest hospital was 30 miles away."
Hashmi said those putting Clarksville General together have a series of tests to make sure the Clarksville General will be ready to care for patients.
"After the hospital is completed, we will be running the hospital as if patients are already in there for two to three weeks. We will put the hospital through its paces. We will even have practice patients to help out in various ways," he said. "Some will be doctors and nurses who can observe and offer assistance on a technical basis. Also, we will have journalists and other professionals who can observe and communicate on a nontechnical level, both with the hospital staff, as well as with the world outside. We want to know what we are doing right and where we need to improve. So when the doors open on Clarksville General Hospital for real, we know we are ready to care for those coming to us.
"So many have been instrumental in getting us to this point it is impossible to name them individually. We thank them all. We could not have gotten here without them. We hope and pray everything goes well and on time."