Matagorda Episcopal Health Outreach Program (MEHOP) announced on Monday, August 3, that four local health care professionals will join the Community Health Center in Wharton — three of whom are familiar faces to local families.

On Thursday, July 2, 2020, Pediatricians Henri Ann Nortman, JD MD, Tayyab Pasha, DO and Susan Winchell, MD were advised by Memorial Hermann Medical Group (MHMG) that the Wharton clinic would be permanently closed as of August 31. Along with the closure notice, all were handed termination letters.

“We will continue to provide the best care we can for our patients with the support of MEHOP.”

“We were not given any warning at all,” Nortman told The County Gin. “There had always been issues with the building that we were in because (MHMG) had downsized the number of people that we had there. There was a lot of overhead with the clinic building. (MHMG) had talked a few years ago about possibly building another building for us that would be smaller, more efficient, but nothing ever came of that. So, we were pretty shocked when they said they were just shutting the whole thing down. We were told that no positions were available anywhere else in their system.”


The County Gin spoke with Henri Ann Nortman, JD, MD to discuss the decision behind joining MEHOP, staying to provide care to Wharton families and what to expect during the transition process. 

“I’ve been here 18 years. Just the fact that we have been here so long and have so many patients is the reason we decided to stay in Wharton,” Nortman said. “We knew that there are not really any other local options for pediatric patients. I mean, there are family practice doctors available, but we feel strongly that pediatric patients are better in the care of a pediatrician. We really wanted to stay here and continue to provide for our families that we have known so many years.”

Nortman said there were other options and offers presented to the group, however, MEHOP was the most flexible with keeping the group together. 


“They (MEHOP) were the most responsive and they were able to meet our desires of what we wanted. It just coalesced much better than the other offers we had,” she told The Gin. “We did have some other offers, but we felt that our patients and, we, would all be better off with MEHOP.”

Nortman does not foresee any issues with current patient insurance coverage and offered praise to MEHOP for offering payment options to its patients. 

“There may be a rare, small plan that they may not take, but they are very extensive in the insurance that they accept,” she said. “They also have options for people who don’t have insurance to pay based on their income like a sliding scale, which is something we didn’t have at Memorial Hermann. We are excited about that.”


The office location for the pediatric care is to be determined, however, Nortman said there was talk about utilizing the existing office buildings near the MHMG clinic. 

“(MEHOP) is looking at probably one of the buildings next door to the clinic. That’s where they have the new MEHOP OB/GYN and GI offices,” she said. “We are hoping that we will be in one of the other ones. That hasn’t been finalized yet as far as I know, but the location will be announced soon.”

Though the pediatric team is hoping for zero time lapse in patient care, Nortman said if any lapse would occur, it should not be greater than one month from Monday, August 31 and assures that the pediatricians will be available to answer any questions and fill prescriptions for current patients wishing to transfer. 

“We really intend to be there for them,” she told The Gin. “If they have any questions, they can always call us. We will be at the Wharton clinic until August 31st and are happy to answer any questions that anyone has about the transition.”

One process during transition Nortman explained was the transfer of medical records to the new office. 

“Because the way the law is written in regards to medical records, the best way to get records transferred is to wait until we have our new clinic,” Nortman said. “When the patient wishes to make an appointment, they would check with us to get a records release signed. Once they sign that records release, it will be faxed over to Memorial Hermann and Memorial Hermann will fax the records back directly to us.

“There is a mechanism for someone going to get their own records from the clinic, but it’s a lot of trouble — it takes longer and it costs money. The other way is free and more smoother to do. If people do not have access to their shot records, especially since school is getting ready to start, they can always call us now and we can provide that. We are trying to collect as many shot records as we can on our current patients to take those with us so that way we don’t have that gap.”

Opening dates and location will be announced by MEHOP soon. Nortman, Pasha, and Winchell are confident that their dedication to continue care for Wharton families will aid for a smooth transition. 

“We just really hope that our patients will stick with us,” Nortman told The Gin. “We will continue to provide the best care we can for our patients with the support of MEHOP.”

The fourth to join MEHOP’s team of health care professionals will be Physician Assistant Dana Foster. Dana has practiced medicine in El Campo for many years and will join Physician Assistant Kayla Cerny-Lezak, also from El Campo, and Farhana Ambreen, MD at MEHOP Family Medicine. 

MEHOP has provided health care services for the residents of Wharton and Matagorda Counties for over 20 years through their locations in Bay City. In 2018, MEHOP established a physical presence in Wharton with the opening of their Family Medicine and Behavioral Health clinic. In addition, MEHOP opened a new location in July of this year for their OB/GYN and Gastroenterology practices.  

MEHOP accepts Medicare, Medicaid and private/employer-based insurance plans. If uninsured, fee for services discounts may be available based on household size and income if eligible. For appointments, locations and additional information call 979-559-3550.  


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