Hemphill County Hospital board faces financial blow-back from nursing home name change

The Hemphill County Hospital Board now knows how their recent decision to change the name of the nursing home has affected the district. Early on in the board’s April 16 meeting, the trustees convened in an executive session to consult with the district’s attorney regarding the Edward Abraham Nursing Home endowment through the Amarillo Area Foundation (AAF).

Later in regular session, during the administrative report for the nursing home, HCH Administrator Christy Francis told the board that she had received a call from Clay Stribling, the AAF president/CEO, who reported that the endowments that were designated to the EANH had been pulled and repurposed for other charitable entities. “He basically told me that was due to the name change,” said Francis. The result amounts to a loss of approximately $40,000 annually.

The issue of the name change has been ongoing for more than a year and a half. In July 2017, district officials had announced the possibility. Two months before, voters had approved a $13.8 million bond issue for the construction of a new nursing home to replace the current, aging facility that has had soil stabilization issues since it was built in 1962. The structure also has never had an asbestos abatement.

The Edward Abraham Memorial Home was named after Eddie Abraham, a local businessman who spearheaded a drive for the building of a nursing home, but then died suddenly in October 1960. His family established a $50,000 endowment fund in his memory to start the project, which was matched by area residents. A federal grant and more donations helped meet the construction goal of $302,000.

For several years, the hospital district’s logos have reflected an informal name change for branding purposes—to the Edward Abraham Nursing Home. Both names, Edward Abraham Memorial Home and Edward Abraham Nursing Home, have been in use by the district and the community.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR IN 2017
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR IN 2017

When the report of a possible name change for the new facility was published in The Record in 2017, it elicited letters to the editor expressing objections to any name that did not include Edward Abraham’s. The HCH board eventually formed a committee to make a recommendation for the name, and in February of this year, Francis said they had chosen “Mesa View Senior Living.” It will join the Mesa View Assisted Living facility and the Mesa View Independent Living cottages, as a complex known as the Mesa View Retirement Community.

Board member Karen Gullett asked Francis if the move to repurpose the funding had been led by the Abraham family. “He [Stribling] didn’t tell me who called or how it came about,” said Francis. “He just said that … the Amarillo Area Foundation Board met; reviewed the request; and decided that, yes, they could repurpose the money, and that at the end of this quarter, it would be repurposed.”

After verifying that the interest from the endowment went into EANH’s general account, Gullet told the board that money was utilized to pay bills and make purchases for the needs of the residents of the nursing home. Commenting on the redesignation of the funding, she added, “So, they’re really looking out for the Abraham patients, aren’t they? It’s a pretty cheap trick.”

In the March financial report for EANH, CFO Bob Ericson said the census has stayed at approximately 34 residents, the room revenue was within $1,225 of the budget, and salaries had held steady. The loss for the month was slightly more than the budgeted amount. Ericson noted it was close enough to have been a good month for the Home.

“We’ll take those wins when we can get them,” he said, to which Gullet added, “Considering the fact that if we hadn’t taken it over, it would be closed by now—the nursing home. But we’ve got to figure out how to make it without that $40,000.”

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