New family medicine clinic meets pivotal healthcare need in rural West Texas

Patients in rural West Texas can access an oasis in a healthcare desert because of the new Ralls Family Medicine Clinic, located in Crosby County, according to a Sept. 12 report from The Texas Tribune.

Thirty miles east of Lubbock, Texas, Crosbyton Clinic Hospital is the only hospital in the county. It offers limited services, leaving community members with little choice when it comes to accessing medical care.

The clinic serves the 1,740 residents and the surrounding area. About 20 percent of the town is older than 65. However, family nurse practitioner and Ralls native John Hodges saw an opportunity to provide a lifeline to the community. 

"It’s a security blanket. I have elderly patients come in saying, 'I can come here, I can’t go to Lubbock,'" Mr. Hodges said. 

The financial uncertainty that plagues the majority of rural clinics is apparent to Mr. Hodges. He noted that his team will need to sustain operations through the first three to six months. However, the clinic does have support from city leadership. The city owns the building that houses the clinic and offers Hodges a cooperative rate. Ralls Mayor Terry Hitt said he and the city council will continue to support the clinic and its possible expansion.

"It is something we needed here instead of driving over to Lubbock. We have a very large senior population, and I thought it would be really nice to have someone here in Ralls that they could come to," Mr. Hitt said. 

The clinic saw 359 patients in its first month.

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