Columns for The Lufkin News

Shop Local, Get Well Local

Posted Aug 06, 2013 by Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

I have the privilege this year of serving as Chairman of the Board for the Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber, along with the City of Lufkin and the Economic Development Partnership, commissioned a retail study that will help us in recruiting even more business to the area. Do you support our local economy by shopping local?

Even more important to our economy, where do you go for your healthcare?

As a physician community leader, I have a unique perspective on the healthcare sector. Across the state level and nationally, healthcare accounts for 11%-12% of a local economy. In the Lufkinarea, it is nearly double that at 20%. Over the last 11 years, all other sectors of the economy combined have shown miniscule growth (0.5%). The healthcare sector grew by 36.3% during that same period. 7,424 Lufkin area jobs are directly linked to the healthcare sector, with a direct tie-in of $193.26 million in annual disposable income. It is not an understatement to say that the healthcare sector is a strong driver of Lufkin’s economic growth.

Of course, everyone is a bit nervous about the recent changes at Lufkin Industries and Temple-Inland. In my role with the Chamber, I am grateful for the recent outreach from new leadership from both GE/Lufkin Industries and Georgia Pacific. I urge both companies to continue the legacy left to them of strong involvement with the Chamber, the

United Way
, and the many other organizations that contribute to our quality of life. But, each of us has a responsibility to our community. Now – more than ever – how we act as individuals will drive our local economy.

We love to tout how much we love Lufkin, then we turn around and head to Houstonfor healthcare… when our local facilities and personnel are top notch. Those of us who are blessed with jobs and insurance have a responsibility to our community to direct our healthcare dollars locally as much as possible.

Why? Your community non-profit hospital, Memorial Health System of East Texas, has a mission to care for all – even those who do not have insurance or means to pay. For example, the ArthurTempleSr.RegionalCancerCenter has never turned a patient away due to inability to pay. Those Houston hospitals aren’t going to care for our indigent or uninsured, but they are more than happy to take our insurance. MD Anderson, for example, has a history of not even giving appointments without proof of payment up front. When you leave for healthcare services that can be delivered locally, you are diverting resources away that can not only help support local care for all, but improve our local economy. In these times of ever-increasing bureaucracy and ever-tightening reimbursement, we need to consciously support what we have here… or it may go away.

Ah, but then the argument turns to perceived quality of care. A couple of years ago, I looked at our cancer patient population to determine the #1 cause of delay in starting treatment. It was not income level or lack of insurance. It was seeking a second opinion out of town. Ironic, isn’t it, that thinking you need to go somewhere else for treatment might actually hurt you in the long run! Your local healthcare providers are perfectly capable of making the decision of what needs to be treated in the big city, and it is far less than what most people think.

To tweak an expression: “What stays in Lufkin is good for Lufkin.” Shop local? You bet. Stay local for healthcare? Absolutely.

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Meet Our Team

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Radiation Oncologist

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Radiation Oncology Nurse

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Lead Radiation Therapist

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Radiation Therapist

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Radiation Therapist

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Dosimetrist

Linda Miller, MS

Linda Miller, MS

Medical Radiation Physicist

Evelyn Leach

Evelyn Leach

Receptionist