At the July 14 meeting of the Pinehurst City Council the council voted unanimously to support both the proposal to establish a Veterans Administration hospital and a study pertaining to a new inpatient facility in Orange.

City Attorney Tommy Gunn read a resolution supporting veterans and requesting that the Veterans Administration establish a Veterans Administration Medical Inpatient Hospital in Orange County, Texas. The proposed location would be the current hospital located on Strickland Drive.

“There has been a lot of positive feedback about establishing a veterans hospital in the Baptist Hospital building. This would be good for the nearly 6,000 veterans that live in Orange County. It would be a great benefit for them not to have to drive to Houston or Baton Rouge to get their medical care”, said Mayor Pete Runnels.

The resolution passed unanimously. At present there is only an outpatient clinic in Beaumont for veterans. For most needed care the veterans have to drive to the large VA hospital in Houston, or to Baton Rouge. There is often a wait of several hours to see doctors for even routine medical care. A hospital in Orange would benefit thousands of veterans in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana.

The Pinehurst council also voted to join Orange and the other Orange County cities in assisting the City of Orange in the cost of a feasibility study for the location of a new inpatient hospital in Orange County. The City of Orange has retained a consulting firm to study the need and location of a new inpatient hospital to replace the loss of the inpatient portion of Baptist Hospital-Orange.

City Administrator Robbie Hood reported that Orange is only asking Pinehurst for $840 toward the total cost of $40,000 for the study.

“The firm is studying the population locations in Orange County and the population utilization of the old inpatient facility. They are hoping to find a location central in the county to try to draw usage from the community of Orangefield and the cities of Vidor and Bridge City, as well as Orange and West Orange. When a business looks at a town for location one of the things they look for is a hospital. Hopefully in the future we will be able to get an inpatient facility here”, said Hood. “The study will determine what sort of inpatient hospital would best serve the needs of the county.”

“I think this is something we need to participate in. We need a small inpatient hospital in Orange County for many reasons. It would not need to be big, as few as eight to 12 beds would probably work. Our cost is the smallest of the cities that Orange is asking for”, said Runnels. “For our cities to grow, we really need to have an inpatient hospital in addition to an emergency facility.”

The council voted to assist the City of Orange in the study as was requested.

In other business the council voted to nominate Mayor Pro Tem John Zerko as a candidate for the Board of Directors of the Orange County Appraisal District.

For a number of years Pinehurst has been a member of a coalition that retains a Houston law firm to study the requested rate increases by Entergy Texas, Inc. The council approved an ordinance to suspend the requested rate increase application filed on June 12, 2015 by Entergy. After the study is completed the Houston firm will make a report to coalition members who will then act on the recommendation from the firm.