Health care

It’s the Rockdale ‘industry’ that flies below the economic radar

What if we could land an industry in Rockdale that employs over 200 persons, offers a service that will only continue to grow in demand in upcoming decades and is in the process of expanding.

Guess what? We’ve already got it.

Health care may not be on your economic radar so far as Rockdale is concerned, but it ought to be. Just drive by Richards Memorial Hospital sometime and see the activity.

After Luminant, there’s probably not a larger employer in the Rockdale area than health care and the school district. After the debacle that was the Blackhawk era, the hospital —and its associated Little River Healthcare clinics—is on the grow again.

The construction activity at RMH is for a new modular building to house administration offices, allowing the current administration wing to house an expanded orthopedics unit and physical therapy.

RMH, which was affected by the Alcoa shutdown along with most of the rest of the town, has coped by casting itself as a regional health care center offering more than 40 specialists.

Rockdale has become a way to “go to the doctor in Austin without driving to Austin.” For instance, three cardiologists now see patients in Rockdale four days a week.

RMH’s cath lab, which was eliminated in one of many unfortunate Blackhawk decisions, is back.

A rheumatologist is being added to the list of specialists and more opthalmology services are being planned.

What does the future hold? Lots of potential. For instance, there’s a developing partnership between Rockdale’s health care community and the school district, with a school clinic in the works.

Hopefully, some adult medical training classes can get moving, assisting Rockdale residents who want to take advantage of some of those good-paying local health care jobs.

Bottom line. The growing health care “industry” in Rockdale sounds just like what the doctor ordered.—M.B.

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2013-06-27 digital edition

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