Naked City

No Criticism at Clinic Event

City and county officials on Monday managed to mark the occasion of National Community Health Center Week while holding their tongues on the divisive topic of funding for the Travis Co. hospital district (see p.18 and "Austin@Large," p.15). That might explain why even-tempered County Commissioner Margaret Gomez was invited to the celebration at the Rosewood-Zaragosa clinic, while other commissioners – who have been more critical of the city in the funding flap – were not.

Trish Young, who oversees the city's Community Care Services Department, handed out appreciation awards to city, county, state, and federal representatives, including Austin's U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett and state Rep. Dawnna Dukes. In Travis Co., 12 CHC sites – Federally Qualified Health Centers, in government parlance – serve about 45,000 uninsured and underinsured patients each year, according to city statistics. The vast majority of those patients eke out a living below the federal poverty line of $18,000 a year.

During their remarks, Doggett and Gomez treaded ever so lightly on the hospital district brouhaha. Gomez personally addressed City Council Member Betty Dunkerley, in the audience, and stressed the importance of a city-county "partnership" to ensure the hospital district's success. The emphasis on "partnership" was a veiled reference to the city turning over its health care services to the county with far fewer reserve dollars than anticipated. (After the program, Gomez and Dunkerley repaired to a side room for a private chat. "We're old friends," Dunkerley explained later.)

Doggett, still nursing a virus that silenced his voice for a couple of days, joked that the hospital district's new Board of Managers was already in the thick of things, judging from the headlines in the newspapers last week. Several board members – Dr. Thomas Coopwood, Rose Lancaster, Rosa Mendoza, and Tom Young – also turned out for the celebration, as did City Council Member Raul Alvarez.

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Hospital District, National Community Health Center Week, Travis Co. Hospital District, Rosewood Zaragosa, Margaret Gomez, Dawnna Dukes, Betty Dunkerley, Dr. Thomas Coopwood, Rose Lancaster, Rosa Mendoza, Tom Young, Trish Young, CHC, Federally Qualified Health Centers

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