TEXAS CITY — After a trying week, the board of directors of the county’s only nonprofit hospice program decided Thursday that the organization is here to stay.

Last week the Hospice Care Team board voted to cease operations. The 31-year-old organization is about $500,000 in the red.

After announcing its shutdown and that a Houston-based nonprofit had agreed to take over, the board had a change of heart. It has also had a change in leadership.

On Thursday, board President Ron Martin asked to step down. Lori Carnes, who was vice president, is now president,   while Bruce Clawson is the new vice president.

Martin, who was in Toronto as part of his duties as a leader of Lions Club International, will remain on the board, Clawson said.

“(Carnes) has the ability to devote a lot of time in the coming weeks to be at the offices every day and lead Hospice Care Team,” Clawson said.

Carnes, a former nurse, is co-owner of Carnes Funeral Home in Texas City. Clawson said she is able to help staff operate the organization as it restructures.

Hospice Care Team laid off a third of its staff in advance of Thursday’s formal decision. It is working with a consultant to find other efficiencies.

“Our intent is to be a leaner organization,” Clawson said. “We are not out of the woods by any means. We still have serious issues, but we are determined to keep working.”

After suspending intake of new patients last week, Hospice Care Team started taking in new patients Wednesday. The numbers of patients who are indigent or uninsured will be capped.

In the past, as much as 20 percent of the organization’s patient load was unfunded.

“We have to be careful of our ratio as we try to get back on our feet,” Clawson said. “We are telling (medical professionals) who send us patients that we need more who can pay or have insurance to pay. 

“Every dollar we get, as a nonprofit, means that is money we can spend on someone who doesn’t have the means. The mission of hospice is to help people die with dignity, and we want to help as many people as we can.”

A key to surviving will also include support from the community Hospice Care Team serves. 

It has offices in Texas City and Brazoria County. 

There are 57 patients under the organization’s care; more than half are from Galveston County.

Clawson said there will be a call to the community for help.

“Someone asked me today what help was,” Clawson said. “I say that is anything from $10 to $10,000.

“We need assistance. There is a short-term need and then there is a long-term need to sustain this organization for years to come.”

Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5334 or tjaulds@galvnews.com.

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