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The University Health System’s chances to keep the struggling South Side hospital appear dead.
In the year The moves are the clearest indication yet that there will be no deal with Steward Health Care System, the Dallas-based company that has operated Texas Vista since 2017.
Steward announced the closing last week and said the hospital’s survival depends on Bexar County and
Accepting the proposal to take the hospital.
San Antonio’s Texas Vista Medical Center is closing after 40 years.
On Tuesday, University Health President and CEO George Hernandez and Bexar County Commissioner Rebecca Clay-Flores said this would be a Band-Aid solution and not sound management of taxpayer dollars.
“In terms of taking care of the community, we have an obligation to seriously consider all options and cast a wide net,” Hernandez said in a meeting with the Express-News editorial board. But we have a duty to use due diligence when looking at these options to make sure we are not buying something short-lived.
He declined to elaborate on his proposed takeover of the privately held company, but said it was just days before Steward announced the closing of Texas Vista.
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Only two major hospitals in the southern part of the city, Texas Vista has been serving patients of modest means for over 40 years. Officials from both parties said closing the 327-bed facility would mean less medical care for residents and remove a major employer in a poverty-stricken area.
While acknowledging that, University Health and county officials on Tuesday reiterated their arguments against taking over Texas Vista. The big one, he said, is that upgrading the hospital will cost a lot of money.
Aside from the aging infrastructure, the Texas Vista site lacks the necessary space for a modern medical center. A minimum of 40 acres is required, and there is not that much undeveloped land around Texas Vista. Not all buildings near the hospital are owned by Medical Properties Trust, which leases Texas Vista to Steward.
Take off the gloves in a public battle over who is responsible for the future of a South Side San Antonio hospital
University Health has acquired 68 acres near Texas A&M University-San Antonio for a new 256-bed hospital in a $500 million deal with the university. Finding doctors and nurses is difficult, he said, but working with A&M could ease the problem.
“I want my community to thrive and not just have a Band-Aid (given),” Clay-Flores said. “So can we and others — the city, other entities with a lot of money — do it? Maybe. But I’m tired of the Band-Aids,” he said.
She expressed concern about the trade-offs local governments will be making in the deal.
“We have a moral obligation not to do business with entities with shady financial practices,” Clay-Flores added, referring to questions raised by county and university health about Steward Health and its landlord’s business practices.
Hernandez and Clay-Flores acknowledged that getting to the new hospital near A&M-San Antonio could be difficult for former Texas Vista patients who lack reliable transportation. About a quarter of the hospital’s patients cannot pay for services, and more than half are government-paid patients, Steward said.
“Is it better to have a hospital next door? Sure,” Hernandez said. “But we can’t put a hospital everywhere. It has to be financially viable. I think the story with Texas Vista is not financially viable.”
Discussions about the situation began earlier this year. Hernandez said he had a lunch meeting with Texas Vista President John Turton in January; About the possible deal this time around.
The owner of Texas Vista Medical Center has previously threatened to close a hospital in Pennsylvania.
Last week, county staff said they met with hospital officials to seek what they described as $5 million to $10 million in aid. At that time, the district confirmed that the hospital would not be closed.
On February 24, Hernandez said, he received a proposal from the pastor for a takeover, with a deadline of three working days, March 1. He cited a nondisclosure agreement on the inability to discuss other details of the proposal of the pastor’s health.
But until March 1, without any agreement, the governor officially
May 1 announced that Texas Vista will close
— Unless the health of the county and university is saved. Steward, which describes itself as the nation’s largest private physician-led network, says University Health has a mission to care for the vulnerable and vulnerable.
He also accused University Health of neglecting the Southwest Side and focusing on more affluent and profitable areas of San Antonio.
University Health and the county pushed back, questioning why taxpayers should bail out Steward and saying its mission and values were inconsistent with Medical Properties Trust.
Steward announced that 827 employees will lose their jobs as a result of the hospital’s closure. Medical professionals are in high demand, and Texas Vista employees may receive discounts from hospitals here, university health officials said.
Steward did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
San Antonio’s wealthier, healthier neighborhoods have more hospitals and clinics — and there’s little incentive to change that.
The closing of Texas Vista will especially affect access to mental health services in the south part of the city, where it has one of two full-service hospitals.
University Health officials are working with other organizations to get Texas Vista mental health care. The demand for such beds exceeds the supply in the county.
A member of Clay-Flores’ staff met with Texas Vista staff to discuss the possibility of converting the facility into a mental health hospital, but the idea was rejected, Clay-Flores said.
University Health, Methodist Health Care, Baptist Health System, Haven for Hope and other organizations have asked the Legislature to support $300 million in funding for a psychiatric center in Bexar County.
Mental health authorities have requested support for another 100 purchased psychiatric beds to expand capacity and flexibility to pay market rates for beds.
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