YEAR IN REVIEW I HEALTH INDUSTRY

Several organizations in the medical industry announced partnerships and expansions in 2017 that are designed to increase the access and quality of care East Texans will have for years to come.

Other health-related trends include openings of medical facilities and efforts to tackle opioid addiction.

PARTNERSHIP ANNOUNCEMENTS

In April, East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System announced it was looking for a strategic partner to provide capital for growth and expansion. In September, ETMC announced a partnership with Ardent Health Services.

Ardent has said it will bring $150 million in investments to the new hospital system it is creating with its purchase of ETMC and its affiliation with The University of

Texas medical system. According to a news release, the UT system will "contribute its Tyler-based UT Health Northeast hospital and 12 physician clinic operations to the new 10-hospital system." Ardent Health Services President and CEO David Vande-water said the new entity will not be a nonprofit. That means ETMC's facilities — and possibly even UT Health Northeast's facilities — will go back on tax rolls and pay property taxes. "The due diligence process is in its final stages," Rebecca Berkley, ETMC spokesperson, said. "The transaction will be concluded in early 2018."

In August, Baylor Scott & White, the state's largest nonprofit hospital system, entered into a partnership agreement with Tyler's Texas Spine & Joint Hospital. United Surgical Partners International also is part of the deal.

The Baylor system will have a controlling stake in Texas Spine & Joint Hospital, which will continue to be at least partially physician-owned. There are plans for future facilities, the company said. There also will be a rebranding.

CHRISTUS EXPANDS SERVICES IN TYLER

Christus Mother Frances Hospital -South Tyler, 8389 S. Broadway Ave., opened in February. Officials said the facility will help fi ll a growing need for health care services in the southern part of Tyler.

The 41,200 square-foot building has a 24/7 emergency care center, outpatient imaging and surgery center, advanced imaging and diagnostic laboratory services and more.

In April, Christus Mother Frances Hospital-Tyler broke ground on a 200,000 square-foot tower that will increase emergency and intensive care capabilities. It is slated to open in the fall of 2019.

The tower is part of an expansion on the south side of Christus Mother Frances Hospital and will feature a sky-walk to an 850-space parking garage across Dawson Street.

The six-level tower will house an emergency care center, advanced intensive care units, multiple support services and space for future growth.

Hospital officials said the original emergency department was designed to treat about 45,000 patients a year, but currently treats almost 75,000.

In January, the system also opened a 15,000 square-foot women's health facility at the Tyler Medical Park.

EXCEL ER CLOSES ITS DOORS IN TYLER

Excel ER, a free-standing emergency room that opened in Tyler in 2015, closed in July.

The company stated in a news release that a variety of factors led to the closure.

"The decision comes in the wake of increased competition, declining patient volume and decreasing reimbursement from insurance carriers in the market," the news release reads.

PARTNERSHIPS TACKLE DRUG USE

The East Texas Substance Abuse Coalition, Tyler ISD Career and Technology Center, UT Tyler Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy and the Smith County Sheriff's Office teamed to educate the public about the dangers of opioids and provide a safe place for people to dispose of prescription medications.

There are now drop-off boxes for prescription drug medications at Smith County Sheriff's Office, 227 N. Spring Ave., and the Emergency Operations Center, 11325 Spur 248.

The boxes were made by students in the welding department and the auto collision program at the CTC. The materials were donated by local businesses.

In November, The UT Tyler Center for Students in Recovery hosted "Overdose Prevention and Free Naloxone Training" that showed about 20 professionals who attended how to recognize when someone is having an opioid overdose, how to respond and how to evaluate their needs.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced in May that Texas would receive $27.4 million in federal funds to combat opioid abuse. This grant allowed agencies like the Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative to educate the public about opioid addiction.

In August, Tyler City Council accepted a grant from the Kaleo Pharmaceutical Co. for 75 boxes of a drug that offsets the effects of an opioid overdose to be given to Tyler Police Department.

The EVZIO Naloxone HCI Injectors are valued at $300,000.

ENDING THE YEAR UNDER THE WEATHER

In the final weeks of 2017, Tyler, Long view, Lufkin and Nacogdoches ranked at the top of Walgreens' flu index.

The Walgreens Flu Index is compiled using weekly retail prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza across Walgreens and Duane Reade locations nationwide, according to a news release.

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