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Piece of Mind: ER Closure Inevitable Or Preventable?

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A major part of me wants to believe that a critical health-care decision in Commerce is an unavoidable consequence of the current Delta variant outbreak of the COVID pandemic.

However, another part of me is beginning to believe that it might be the consequence of inaction on the part of state political leaders way down yonder in Austin who seem to suggest that they know better than the communities about health conditions on the ground.

Commerce’s branch of the Hunt County Regional Medical Center has closed its emergency room operations for an indefinite period, requiring ER patients to travel greater distances if they need immediate care. The hospital is assigning its ER staff to help out at the Hunt County regional center’s main campus in Greenville.

It is my fervent hope that this closure will end as soon as we turn the corner on the Delta variant and on the COVID outbreak that has struck the entire state. Of course, that goes without saying.

What continues to trouble me is that Gov. Greg Abbott continues to insist that local jurisdictions are disallowed from issuing mask mandates or taking steps beyond what the state has required to battle this disease.

Abbott has told school districts they cannot order children to wear masks when they return to class; Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has told Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins to cease ordering masks in the county courthouse … or else.

The state is tying the hands of local authorities by issuing these prohibitions.

Commerce ER To Close Midnight Friday, Staff Assigned To COVID Surge At Greenville Hospital | 88.9 KETR

Is the Commerce ER closure a consequence of that? I don’t know about you but if I had a debilitating injury that required immediate medical care, I would not want to be forced to travel 18 miles to Greenville to have it done; Rockwall residents are facing the same issues, too, as their ER has been closed because of the COVID outbreak.

Didn’t the Republican Party – to which Abbott and the entire state political hierarchy belong – once declare that “local control is best”? Sure it did! That’s all seemingly changed in this highly charged partisan atmosphere where at times it appears that politics is driving the decisions of those charged with protecting us against killer diseases such as COVID-19.

At one level I accept the decision to close the ERs in Commerce and Rockwall. I just wonder .. why? Was it inevitable or was it preventable?

John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, also is a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is retired but is still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis’s blog for KETR, “Piece of Mind,” presents his views and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff or its members.

Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.

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