New clinic an option for district

By MIKE BROWN Reporter Editor

Rockdale Hospital District directors met with “new look” Blackhawk Health Care executives Monday and opened up the possibility a new clinic, instead of a new hospital, might be in Rockdale’s future.

Blackhawk, which has turned around the fortunes of Rockdale health care since a 2006 merger, is in the process of buying Richards Memorial Hospital. The company has been through a business refocusing with many personnel changes.

Matt Hainline, Blackhawk president, introduced new CEO Phil Ellett and other company officials. Hainline had been CEO.


What hasn’t changed is Blackhawk’s regard for its Rockdale business.

Hainline referred to Rockdale as Blackhawk’s “flagship” operation and noted “this (RMH) is now the second largest critical access hospital in the state of Texas.

“Rockdale is the place where things are going the way we want them to go,” he said.

He raised the possibility Blackhawk might opt for a new “on campus” clinic instead of a new hospital, which has been under consideration.

Hainline noted the downtown clinic at 602 North Main is in an old building. “It’ not representative of the cutting-edge things we’re doing,” he said.

The oldest part of the former Rockdale Medical Association clinic dates back to the 1940s.

Surveying continues at the hospital site.

Several directors noted that recent upgrades at the hospital have transformed the building to the point where tearing RMH down to construct a new hospital might not now be an attractive option.

More than half the “patient encounters” in Rockdale’s health care system take place in clinics, directors were told.


A n update on Black hawk’s purchase of the hospital facilities revealed that not much has happened on that front.

Hainline cited economic conditions. “The banks just aren’t wanting to talk to us about financing,” he said.

“The market is very tight,” he said. “Although in the Austin area we’re probably in one of the best markets in the United States.”

He said Blackhawk has also been busy with its recent acquisition in Bastrop.


Hainline said the reorganization is focused on the company “cleaning up what we didn’t understand” and “getting ready to take it up to the next level.”

“There are a lot of great people who have left (Blackhawk) of their own volition,” he said.

Ellett, who came to the health care field from the high tech industry told directors about the change.

“I’ve come from one of the least regulated industries into one of the most regulated,” he said.

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