EliteCare 24/7 ER – League City • Real Doctors • Real ER • Real Fast

December 1st, 2018

Doctors Nguyen Luu, James Vincent and Jason Gukhool

By James Vincent, MD, FACEP, FAAP
Medical Director, EliteCare 24HrER League City

I love a good origins story! (I’m trudging through the Alexander Hamilton book by Ron Chernow, and to my Marvel-loving children’s chagrin, I enjoyed the DC movie “Man of Steel”.) It seems like every ER nowadays – hospital-based or free-standing – claims to have fast service and great care; your insurance is probably advising you to avoid the ER; and what’s the difference between urgent-care and free-standing ER anyway? I hope to shed some light on the state of ER care in the area and will highlight some features of EliteCare’s origins along the way.

The short version is that EliteCare really does have great doctors – our doctors are or have been medical directors of large hospital ERs; one of our docs is board-certified in emergency and internal medicine with ultrasound fellowship; and I trained two extra years at Texas Children’s for pediatric emergency medicine certification. Like a hospital-based ER, we can treat any emergency, from a stroke using tPA to abdominal pain requiring ultrasound or CT imaging to setting broken bones using nitrous oxide or ketamine to infants with respiratory distress or fever. (This is probably the major difference between ER and urgent care, our ability to handle all conditions.) Since our only providers are physicians, you’ll never see a nurse practitioner or PA. We also don’t play games with your “arrival-to-provider-greet” time, so you’ll never be sent to a “results-wait” or “internal-hold” area like you would at a hospital ER. At EliteCare, you’ll arrive, fill out very basic paperwork, then go to a room to be seen by the nurse and doctor, usually within 10 minutes, to then immediately begin evaluation and treatment. Finally, we’ve figured out how to bill your insurance and use a patient advocate to minimize out-of-pocket expenses in order to make sure that your insurance pays for the majority of your visit. Now for our origins story, read on…

EliteCare’s Administrative and Marketing Department.

About 10 years ago, the idea for EliteCare was born. Our ER group was a physician-led group in Houston with about 100 ER doctors, and we staffed the ER’s at all of the HCA hospitals in Houston, (including Clear Lake Regional Medical Center). Delivery of care in a hospital ER was getting frustrating. We had all trained in emergency medicine at intense hospitals across the country from Detroit to UT Houston/Hermann. We began to feel, however, that caring for patients was becoming less important than meeting hospital and federal quality measures. The leaders of our ER group began to think, “What if we built our own ER? How would it look? How would we deliver care?” Texas was one of the few states that could even support a physician-created business. Thankfully, our leaders obtained approval from legislators and licensing bodies and proceeded to create the ideal ER. The “free-standing ER” was born, and EliteCare was one of the first. How would this “ideal” ER look?

EliteCare’s Front Desk Registrars.

Well, first of all, it would be nice, comfortable. Our leaders designed a beautiful waiting room, with the comfortable accommodations you might find at Pottery Barn, including vaulted ceilings, a coffee station, and a nice big television. (This was ground-breaking, since most hospital ER waiting rooms in 2008 were drab and dingy with old vinyl chairs.) Treatment rooms then would be functional, close to nursing and lab stations, but cozy and non-intimidating. Physician designers placed a central nurse’s station, encircled by the treatment rooms, but with warm wood-floor paneling. (This also was a paradigm-shift for the time.) And now ten years later? We then crafted our own formulary and medical record system, with the only requisite being ease of use and efficiency. Therefore, while ER doctors at a large hospital might be charting with Meditech or Epic, which can be time-consuming, EliteCare still has the fastest electronic medical record, giving us more time at the bedside to talk with you about your plan of care.

We would also want the best doctors. Our ER group had more than 100 ER doctors, and we had all already joined because we believed in the vision of a physician-led group. EliteCare then would only let the best of these docs, those with the greatest connections and greatest training and influence, to work at our elite facility. This unique selection pressure led to our very best docs with the most robust training and experience to staff EliteCare. Since we had all been in the Clear Lake area for many years, we already had the best connections for specialty and follow-up care.

(On my own cell-phone, I am able to immediately reach out to plastic and orthopedic surgeons, as well as GI, cardiology, neurology, and pediatric neurology specialists.) We were also able to work with local hospital administrators to make transfer to any hospital smooth and easy, to the hospital of the patient’s choice, keeping us unaffiliated.

We’d also build at the best location. After some research, our founders decided on the corner or 646 and I-45 to build our dream facility. (We consider it a great compliment and endorsement that 10 years later other large hospital groups have also invested in our “League City Medical Village” by building facilities nearby.) EliteCare League City was the first though, the founding provider of health-care in this area.

Like any good romantic comedy or Hallmark movie we’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve learned a lot about insurance companies and how to help folks with their bill. We recently underwent management changes, which has helped us in many ways, including having a well-reviewed presence on Facebook and Yelp and even sprucing up our façade with new lighting. We also just finished our refurb’ with new paint and furniture.

What is the end result? EliteCare is a local League City business, but with world-class expertise. We have drawn the best doctors, nurses, radiology technicians, and front-desk and support staff to our vision of providing the best ER care possible. We’ll spend time with you, take care of every possible emergency, and minimize the time needed for charting and regulatory hassles. We even have newly-renovated observation rooms if you need intensive overnight treatment, and we have connections with a full array of specialists who can see you same or next day for complicated conditions, all of which can keep you out of the hospital. If your condition does require hospitalization, we also have connections with every local hospital and can transfer you quickly to your hospital of choice. And then when the bill comes, we have a patient advocate ready to help fight the insurance company on your behalf.

In conclusion, EliteCare is ready 24/7 for all of your all of your emergency needs. If you have any questions, from benefit coverage to health advice, call us at 281-337-7500. Our doctor or nurse will be standing by to offer personalized advice. Schedule your tour today! elite24er.com

The Affordable Care Act treats emergency health care as an essential health care benefit and it requires insurers to do the same – that means insurance companies must provide coverage for any emergency visit as if it were an in-network visit.

The Room

November 1st, 2018

By Xander Thomas

A new poker club and lounge, opening soon in the heart of South Shore Harbour, will be catering directly to local lifestyle. A major question surrounding this – is it legal?

“We operate within accordance of Texas law,” said Keith Taylor, managing partner of The Room.

Keith says that Texas is “one of the biggest exporter of gamblers in the U.S.,” so it just makes sense to have a place in town where people can go play their card games, instead of constantly traveling across state borders.

He also explained that there are three major rules to being able to open a business like this in Texas: it must be a private place, no one can receive a profit outside of personal winnings – in other words, the house cannot take a rake from the game, and the odds of winning and losing must be equal between all players – other than luck and skill, of course.

“There is no way to lose to the house,” Keith said.

While poker is a large part of what they do, the guys at The Room would like people to know that it is more than just a place for card players. “You could be playing Tiddlywinks, Monopoly, whatever,” he said.

The Room is a private club that has more than just tables to offer its members. They have TVs, a conference room and even have a cigar lounge, which can double as a banquet hall for private tastings member events. They were conscious in the design of the area to make sure that the entire place does not fill with smoke.

“We engineered the air conditioning with negative pressure in there and positive pressure out here so that air is pushed into that room when you open that door.” Keith said, adding that they will have viewing events for game days, and members can always just come in and hang out, even if they don’t play games or use the tables at all.

They will even have a night devoted to bringing women in; every Tuesday night is ladies’ night. They offer free sangria, wine and beer, and have separate tables for regular players and beginners. “Don’t be scared to come try it,” Keith said.

They are encouraging beginners and advanced players alike to check it out and just have a good time, maybe even use it as a date night idea. They offer lessons on Friday nights, as well, so that people of all skill levels can join in the games.

The grand opening of The Room is on Saturday, Nov. 10, and they say that there will be free beer, cigars, smoked meats, an event for charity, even a prize drawing. There will be separate tables for beginners, so that new players don’t have to feel intimidated. You can follow them on Facebook or sign up on their website at www.theroomleaguecity.com for more info.

Movers & Shakers: John Baumgartner

November 1st, 2018

Name: John Baumgartner

Occupation: League City’s city manager

Hometown: Juneau, Alaska

Current home: League City

Family: Wife, Dee Dee; Children: Dallas 26, Robert 26, Emily 22, and Daci 14

What do you like about your job: The great people working together to make League City the very best!
Someone I’d like to meet: Jesus

My favorite performers are: James Taylor or anything sports

I like to spend my leisure time: Relaxing with family

If I could travel any place, I’d go to: Alaska in the summer and Hawaii in the winter

My favorite meal is: Anything my mother cooks, but a great steak and salad with her apple pie is the best

As a youngster, I wanted to grow up to be: Lawyer, but math was better than English, so I went to engineering school

You’ll never catch me: Cheating at golf

The thing that bugs me the most is: Dishonesty

My favorite movie is: Forrest Gump

Few people know: I ran the Boston Marathon when I was skinny

South Shore Harbour Resort celebrating 30th anniversary

August 1st, 2018

South Shore Harbour Resort & Conference Center is celebrating three decades of style, hospitality and memories with a special lineup of events as well as $30 dollar stays on select days this summer. From music and wine lovers to a family looking for an exciting getaway into the bay, there’s something for everyone at South Shore Harbour this season.

“Our 30th Anniversary is a special milestone for us,” said Roy Green, general manager for South Shore Harbour Resort. “With over a dozen special events ranging from our summer concert series to our Sip & Sail party boat cruises, we are excited to welcome guests to celebrate and enjoy our facilities.”

Located just 30 minutes from downtown Houston, South Shore Harbour Resort & Conference Center is the largest full-service waterside resort and conference center in Southeast Texas. With its spectacular peninsular location, the entire complex has had a definite visual impact on the Clear Lake skyline while its classical motif and post-modern design distinguishes it from typical international class hotels.

Built by the Gal-Tex Corporation of Galveston, the resort got quite a sendoff with some 200 Bay Area officials and businessmen attended the groundbreaking in 1986. Opened in September 1988, SSHR is perched on Clear Lake — the country’s third largest boating destination — moments away from Kemah Boardwalk, Space Center Houston, waterfront dining and boating galore.

The hotel features 230 redesigned guest rooms, two redesigned multilevel penthouses, 25,000 square feet of meeting and event space, a marina-side pool and deck, a restaurant and a lobby bar with panoramic views of the bay. SSHR is owned by Galveston-based American National Insurance.
Over the years the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom has become a gathering place for Bay Area events – chamber celebrations, award dinners, fashion show luncheons and galas, many drawing crowds of 600+.

Many come to just chill out and enjoy their weekend. Adding to the success of last year’s poolside movie screenings, this year guests can enjoy blockbuster hits like Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on select Fridays on a giant 120’ screen. Music lovers can relax and unwind with South Shore Harbour’s Summer Concert series featuring some of Houston’s hottest cover bands. Concerts are free and a great way to kick off the weekend.
Adventure seekers can cruise the bay on a 2.5 hour Sip & Sail experience aboard the popular Houston Party Boat. Finally, wine lovers can partake in one of South Shore’s Wine Dinners featuring a four course meal paired with five handpicked wines from around the world.

And staying at South Shore this summer is bound to be memorable when guests book the resort’s Summer Baycation Package starting at $139 on weekdays and $159 on weekends. Information regarding the $30 dollar stays will be available on the resort’s website at sshr.com.

League City Citizens’ Survey Residents encouraged to share feedback regarding City’s growth, development, and future priorities

June 19th, 2018

The League City Council, mayor, and city management are seeking feedback to ensure city government is addressing issues and developing the right priorities based on the needs and wants of citizens.

All League City residents are encouraged to take an online “Citizens’ Survey” from now until July 1, 2018. The short survey contains nine questions related to the city’s growth, development, short-term and long term-goals, and issues or initiatives of concern to residents.

Residents can take the survey by going to www.leaguecity.com/survey

A paper version of the survey will also be available at a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, June 20, at 6 p.m. at the Johnnie Arolfo Civic Center.  As part of the meeting, city staff will present on overview of a proposed Strategic Action Plan developed over the past few months by Council, the mayor, and city management.

The plan contains a set of proposed strategic priorities and initiatives to guide the work of city staff over the next three to five years.

At the June 20 Town Hall meeting, citizens will be able to provide feedback regarding the plan during an open-microphone, public comment period and via comments cards. Council is expected to formally adopt the Strategic Action plan in July.

Residents Encouraged to Take Steps Now to Prepare for Future Flooding Events

May 22nd, 2018

City providing tips and resources as part of Flood Awareness Week

It’s Flood Awareness Week in the State of Texas, and the City of League City wants residents to take steps now to prepare for any future flooding events. Most homes in League City are in or near a flood hazard area and, as such, can be at an increased risk of flooding. In addition, League City is susceptible to riverine and coastal flooding.

“One of the things we are encouraging residents to do now, before a future flooding event, is to register for SwiftReach, the city’s new emergency notification system,” said Director of Communications Sarah Greer Osborne. “Even if you have received emergency notifications from the city in the past, we need everyone to register at www.leaguecity.com/swiftreach or download the SwiftReach Public 911 mobile app. Registration is quick, free of charge, and will ensure everyone in our city is notified via text or voice message when there is extreme weather, an extended utility outage, street closure, or other significant issue of public concern.

In addition, as part of Flood Awareness Week, the city’s website and social media channels will be providing tips as well as highlighting city resources and services that can mitigate flooding. They include:

  • Get a flood insurance policy. Basic homeowner’s insurance does not cover damage from floods. Ask your agent for details. Don’t delay – there is a 30-day waiting period before a policy takes effects.
  • Keep debris and trash out of the streams and ditches. It is illegal in League City to dump any type of debris into a stream or drainage ditch. Debris can become entangled in culverts and streambeds and impede drainage that can cause the flow of water to back up. Call the city’s Street and Storm Water Department at 281-554-1086 to report any dumping.
  • Don’t dump in the storm drains, as they drain to Galveston Bay. The city’s storm drains help maintain the natural functions of the floodplains by providing storage for flood waters and keeping water out of urbanized areas. Floodplains also improve water quality by filtering out impurities from runoff. These areas need to be kept clean to do their job.
  • City staff can provide advice on how to correct drainage issues and can provide you with information on grant opportunities to elevate your home. Call 281-554-1428 for more information or to request one-on-one site visits with the Floodplain Administrator.
  • Visit the city’s Engineering Department at 500 W. Walker to get flood-related information such as a Flood Insurance Rate Map, flood zone and floodway locations, past flooding data, and information on local drainage problems. Permit information and copies of elevation certificates can be requested from the Planning and Development Department, also located at 500 W. Walker



The A List

April 1st, 2018

Ange Mertens

By Ange Mertens

Sometimes we take for granted the things that surround us in our hometown. We fall victim to the proverbial “the grass is always greener”school of thought. With the allure of Houston nightlife, restaurants and style within reach some may be enticed to pursue those entertainment options from our neighbor to the north. In this new column I will be exploring the Bay Area for The Best of The Best in entertainment, food, and fashion.

Fashions from Dress Galaxy

Tis the season for prom dress shopping!  2018 prom trends have a lot of dresses representing the past with bold patterns and romantic blush tones. Off the shoulder designs are in, even better if there’s a ruffle. And two piece designs are once again hitting the runways. Mothers and daughters make the yearly trek to outstanding Houston stores like Muzzies. But did you know that right here in League City we have the designer of one of the most popular brands of prom dresses, Precious Formals? Ruby Ashraf has had her design studio and buyer show room on The Landing Boulevard for over 26 years. Just over a year ago she opened the new show room, named Dress Galaxy, to the public. You are not going to believe this store when you walk in , with the  New York style runway and the shear size and inventory of this place! The savvy prom shopper, pageant queen or socialite can find thousands of designer dresses in stock from size 00 to 30!

We may not attract Ozzy Osbourne or Rage Against the Machine at our local venues,  but in March you can see some great tribute bands at The Scout Bar on Egret Bay, that honor them. Bands like Damn the Torpedoes – a tribute to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Green for a Day- a tribute to Green Day, play to sold out crowds almost weekly. The 80s experience band The Spazmatics, which will have you jumping up-and-down and singing at the top of your lungs by the end of the first set. This place is certainly worth a try.

The Spazmatics – Texas – The Ultimate New Wave 80s Show

Tucked away in a little strip center on Bay Area Boulevard is a local gem. This area is rich in history and history is what makes the Red Oak Café so special. After the loss of her beloved son Justin, Kim Oravetz and her family planted a red oak tree in  honor of Justin’s strength in size and of character.. Kim and her son Ian opened the Red Oak Café with their love for Justin and his larger than life personality and endearing quality at the

Heart. Everyone is family once they walk through the door and love is definitely served in their food. The Texas themed menu is more something you would find in a trendy restaurant in the hill country than in a strip center in League City. You can start your day off with The Big Breakfast, Kitchen Sink Quesadillas, Homemade Biscuits and Gravy or you can be adventurous and choose from close to 20 fresh toppings like raspberries, pumpkin, white chocolate chips, or Nutella to top your mouth watering stack of pancakes. Lunch is an Adventure of tasty dishes like Rio Grande Grilled Cheese made with three different cheeses, Granny Smith apple slices and crisp bacon that will make any grown up rethink grilled cheese. Chisholm Trail Chicken Pot Pie and Cow Poke Beef Stew are their twist on stick to your ribs favorites, but their Rustic Tarts are a surprising concoction of sweet and savory with a flaky crust filled with creamy egg custard, fresh poblano peppers, onions and zesty salsa Verde that will make your week!

Well the saying that was actually made famous in our South of Houston suburbs, “Houston We Have A Problem” is still true today because we are giving Houston a run for their money with the Best of The Best of the Bay Area!

League City trash pilot program ending

February 2nd, 2018

League City administrators have announced that the Republic Services-sponsored Cart Service Pilot program, in which residents of Centerpointe, Pecan Forest, and Nottingham Village subdivisions have been participating, is ending effective Monday, Feb. 19. The program, initiated in August 2017, provided approximately 1,050 residences with 96-gallon trash and recycling carts.

On Feb. 19, sub-contractors will begin collecting the wheeled, topped carts that were provided by Republic Services for the pilot program. Residents are asked to please place the empty carts on the curbside for easy pickup. This process is expected to take several weeks to complete.

Republic will continue to provide trash service utilizing rear loading vehicles, as it does throughout the other areas of the city. The program was originally scheduled to be terminated and carts collected by the end of January 2018, which coincides with the expiration of the initial term of Republic’s contract with the city.

However, the city requested, and Republic agreed, to delay the cart collection until the week of Feb. 19, so that residents may obtain other receptacles for continuing trash collection services. “We appreciate your cooperation throughout this process,” a city official said. Residents with questions should contact 832-386-2370, 281-554-1411 or 281-554-1007.

League City, Kroger team up to establish Donation Center

September 4th, 2017

The City of League City, led by Mayor Pat Hallisey and a group of volunteers, has teamed up with Kroger to establish a League City Kroger Donation Center to support recovery efforts related to Hurricane Harvey.

It will be located in the empty store front at 176 Gulf Freeway South (at the intersection with FM 518 and I-45) in the League City Plaza.

“We all know we are here because Chad Davidson sitting up in Mustang, Okla., saw somewhere on the news that his hometown had flooded. We have some 6,000 homes that have water in them. Most of our people are out there trying to recover right now,” Mayor Hallisey said.

The mayor also highlighted the efforts of the Kroger team from Cincinnati, all the way down to the local store, jumping through hoops to make this happen. “Their generosity is something special. We made one call and within three hours we had the store keys and the beginning on the donation center,” he added.

The empty store front had originally been set aside for Galveston County and the Red Cross to provide support, but Galveston County Commissioner Mark Henry said that facility was moved to Texas Agrilife Center in La Marque, opening the door for League City to begin establishing a single League City Kroger Donation Center, which will eventually consolidate facilities from Hometown Heroes and Walter Hall parks.

“One thing that has jumped out at me throughout this catastrophic event, is the generosity in the City of League City and Galveston County. It has just been unbelievable. Neighbors helping neighbors and people like Libby Johnson chasing me around and teaming with my wife and daughter to get this set-up,” Hallisey said.

“Our problem was that storm supplies and donations were starting to come quickly, and we needed a facility to be able to get them out to the community. Ryan Smith, the City of League City’s IT director has put in a lot of effort to coordinate the use of the Kroger storefront, forklifts and logistics coordination to help make this facility a reality. Ryan is our Radar O’Riley…he can do anything.”

On Sunday, two tractor trailers from Mustang, Okla., arrived at 7 a.m. and numerous local and area residents have stopped by to drop off supplies. The donation center is anticipating as many as six to eight additional truckloads coming in from Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Indiana and Colorado. The center also received some welcome support from a four person Summerdale, Ala. team that drove through the storm with a goose-neck trailer to get much needed supplies into the Galveston County area.

On Sunday our donation center will become a donation and distribution center. The donation and distribution center is taking all donations except clothing. Initially the center will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with volunteer check in beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing through the day.

Volunteers, donors and those seeking assistance are asked to report to the appropriate entrances. People looking for volunteer information or bringing large donations for drop-off should contact Johnnie Waid or Carl Wankowicz at lctxharveyrelief@gmail.com

“We are grateful for all the support for those in need,” the mayor added. “It really shows the heart of our community.”

Movers & Shakers: Mayor Pat Hallisey

April 1st, 2017

Name: Pat Hallisey

Occupation: Mayor of League City

Hometown: Houston

Current home: League City

Family: Wife of 33 years, Janice; daughter, Ashley; daughter and son-in-law, Kristi and Chad Martin; grandson, Christopher

My favorite writer is: Steven Long

Someone I’d like to meet: John Kennedy

If I could switch places with someone for just one day, I’d choose: Gov. Greg Abbott

My favorite performers is: Eric Clapton

I like to spend my leisure time: With family and friends camping and cooking.

If I could travel any place, I’d go to: Rome, Dublin

My favorite meal is: Steak

As a youngster, I wanted to grow up to be: An Olympic swimmer

You’ll never catch me: Taking a nap

The thing that bugs me the most is: People who are late

My favorite movie is: The Right Stuff

Few people know: I am a cut up