Adapting to changing times

Despite COVID-19 pandemic, Goodall-Witcher Healthcare continues to evolve & add service lines to provide quality local care in the rural environment

CLIFTON — Since the dream of two physicians became a reality in 1939, Goodall-Witcher Healthcare continues to grow from its humble beginnings as a 10-bed hospital and medical clinic to a constantly adapting and improving 25-bed critical access hospital with two rural medical clinics, a trauma 4 emergency room, a home health agency, a 43-bed nursing facility as well as a multi-faceted fitness and wellness center.

In a national environment where rural healthcare struggles, underfunded and undercompensated by medical insurance, Goodall-Witcher continues to prioritize patient care. Throughout the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Goodall-Witcher Healthcare has remained on the frontlines, staying prepared in advance while providing constantly updated information and education to keep the public healthy and safe. And several times during the crisis, Goodall-Witcher proved to be the go-to source for news agencies like CNN and CBS for coverage on rural healthcare.

It all began in the late 1930s when two Bosque County physicians — Dr. Van Goodall and Dr. Seth Witcher — had a dream to provide the citizens of the area with the best health care in the most modern facilities available. That same mission holds true today.

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Goodall-Witcher Healthcare President & CEO Adam Willmann came home to Clifton in 2012 (above); Nurses stand ready in surgery (top).

Under the leadership of President and CEO Adam Willmann, Goodall-Witcher Healthcare has become a leader and trendsetter among rural hospitals and clinics across Texas and recognized by many state and national agencies.

With the goal to save Bosque County’s hometown healthcare from deteriorating because of the decrease in federal and state funding in 2018, Goodall-Witcher successfully sought to create the Bosque County Hospital District in order to stabilize its finances through a property tax revenue stream.

In response to a petition signed by supporting citizens across the county, the Bosque County Commissioners approved placing the creation of a hospital district on the 2018 November ballot. With the issue on the ballot and the future of the hospital in jeopardy, county voters overwhelmingly decided to become a financial partner in a new county-wide hospital district.

With the yes vote, Bosque County residents secured the future of "their" healthcare facilities. In an article published by Modern Healthcare, the Bosque County election results were called a “Texas miracle.”

"Healthcare has become a local issue, and Bosque County wants quality local health care,” Willmann said following the election. “Goodall-Witcher will continue to work every day to serve the needs of Bosque County."

Like many rural healthcare facilities, the Goodall-Witcher Healthcare hospital and clinic serves as the epicenter of Bosque County, in no small part due to being the county’s largest employer.

“It would leave just a big black hole here,” Goodall-Witcher Healthcare Auxiliary volunteer receptionist and regular clinic visitor Sue Fielden said in a recent interview celebrating 30 years of Texas Organization for Rural and Community Hospitals (TORCH). “Because of the medical care, because of the people who work here, and contribute to this community in many ways.”

Both Sue and her late husband Sherrod Fielden survived critical medical issues thanks to the local Emergency Room at Goodall-Witcher Healthcare. As just one of many testimonials from grateful patients, the Fieldens were stabilized at Goodall-Witcher before being transported to special care units in larger regional hospitals.

From the most minor of common colds to a modern operating suite, the options for care locally have notably kept pace or exceeded the norm. Goodall-Witcher’s outpatient services allow access to complete care in a local setting, with a full-service rehabilitation, lab and radiology services as well as offering TeleHealth and TeleTherapy. Along with this advanced, up-to-date technology, Goodall-Witcher Healthcare remains focused on maintaining a friendly, small-town atmosphere for its treasured patients.

Over the years, Goodall-Witcher Healthcare has undergone numerous transformations and additions.

In 1972, Goodall-Witcher built a new hospital, and the clinic was moved west of downtown Clifton on Highway 219 near the hospital. Previously known as the Clifton Medical Clinic, the Goodall-Witcher Clinic in Clifton completed new construction in 2008, connecting the clinic to the hospital. In November 2014, Goodall-Witcher Healthcare acquired the medical clinic formerly known as The Medical Office of Dr. Clay Pickering, DO, now known as the Goodall-Witcher Clinic in Whitney.

Additionally, the Goodall-Witcher Home Health Agency was established in 1984, the Goodall-Witcher Nursing Facility was opened on the bottom floor of the hospital in 1996, and the Goodall-Witcher Fitness and Wellness Center opened in 2011.

Over the years, Goodall-Witcher Healthcare has developed extensive collaborative relationships with neighboring healthcare systems like Lutheran Sunset Ministries, Waco Cardiology Associates and Coryell Health, just to name a few.

Management-wise, the privately-owned hospital started by the Goodalls and Witchers was turned over in 1966 to a governing board of trustees charged with guiding the newly-formed private, not-for-profit foundation, which ultimately changed its name to Goodall-Witcher Healthcare Foundation in 1995 to more accurately reflect the broadened scope of care provided to the community.

In 2012, ownership changed from the Goodall-Witcher Healthcare Foundation to Goodall-Witcher Hospital Authority, a municipal hospital authority created through an ordinance of the City of Clifton.

Then in 2018, the Bosque County Hospital District — governed by a seven-member elected board — was created through a county-wide election.

Continuing his role as a leader among rural hospitals in Texas, Willmann was recently elected the TORCH board chairman. Willmann will serve a two-year term with a distinct purpose as TORCH pursues a mission to be the voice and principal advocate for the 157 rural and community hospitals in Texas and provide leadership in addressing the special needs and issues of these hospitals.

“I am very honored and proud to serve the members of TORCH,” Willmann said. “It has been a dream of mine ever since I attended my first TORCH Conference in the spring of 2007. I look forward to using the role as an advocate for rural healthcare as we move into these new uncharted waters and to further our mission.”

Willmann came to Clifton in 2012 with a bachelor degree in biomedical science and a Masters of Health Administration from Texas A&M after being CEO in Georgia. It proved to be homecoming for Willmann, born in the very hospital he leads and growing up in Clifton.

“In addition to the community we serve, I want to make sure there’s high-quality care for my family — my wife, sons, mom, dad, grandmother," Willmann said. "I have lots of family here. And my motivation is also to make sure this place has a future, so I can continue to have the opportunity to work here. I love what I do. I have a solid board. I’m living a dream.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS & BRETT VOSS

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