Texas Vista Medical Center to Close Barring Take Over or Significant Government Relief
SAN ANTONIO, TX – Steward Health Care today announced its decision to close Texas Vista Medical Center (TVMC) effective May 1, 2023. On limited resources, TVMC supports limited-income, high-needs patient populations. Nearly one quarter of the hospital’s patients cannot and do not pay for the services the hospital provides. Additionally, over half of TVMC patients are government pay patients, which means the hospital is paid less than the cost of patient care. Steward has put forth a proposal for University Health System (UHS) and Bexar County to take over control of TVMC, but UHS and Bexar County have not accepted our offer.
TVMC’s resource challenges have been long-standing. When Steward Health Care assumed operations of Texas Vista Medical Center in 2017, the facility was struggling financially, as it was choked out by the well-heeled “public” hospital competitor across town. The COVID-19 pandemic further placed a significant fiscal burden on TVMC. Steward was able and willing to assume financial losses and risks during that extraordinary public health crisis; it is not sustainable to do so any longer. In order for the hospital to continue to provide safe, high-quality services—particularly for the region’s behavioral health patients, trauma patients, and women—an external agent must step up to assist the facility. Barring this, the facility is forced to close. If TVMC is forced to close as a result of inaction by UHS and Bexar County, emergency department (ED) boarding times will increase, wait times for appointments with specialists will get longer, and the time and attention given to each patient in the area will suffer.
Jon Turton, President of Texas Vista Medical Center, said, “TVMC does not want to close, and the consequences of our closure will cause an immediate public health crisis for the city’s most vulnerable patients. We offer critical emergency care and OB/GYN care for the San Antonio area. Given that TVMC is a significant provider of behavioral health care in the region, other hospitals will immediately see an increase in behavioral health patients at a time when that system is already strained. We regret that the local community’s lack of adequate support for vulnerable patients has forced TVMC to close its doors. We are still hoping that the county or other entity will assume control of the hospital.”
Steward has proposed that UHS and Bexar County assume control of TVMC, given the high-needs patient population it serves. UHS and Bexar County have the resources and the standing to provide for this community. UHS is a public charity created by the Texas Constitution. It gets, for the purpose of “management and operations” [Bexar County Hospital District Board of Managers, November 16, 2021], $472 million in local property tax dollars, pays no taxes of its own, receives large charitable donations, receives significant amounts of supplemental Medicaid payments (including HARP payments for which TVMC would immediately qualify if UHS runs it as a non-profit), gets paid higher commercial rates than TVMC, and has significant cash reserves and financial resources.
It is part of UHS’ original charter to care for the indigent population of Bexar County. This service has largely fallen on TVMC’s shoulders over the past few years. Meanwhile, UHS has used its vast resources to build a half billion-dollar state-of-the-art hospital that will serve a wealthier patient base in a more affluent area. If such a large public charity has the funds to build this new hospital—off of which it will make significant money from its operation—it can afford to assume control of TVMC.
About Steward Health Care
Nearly a decade ago, Steward Health Care System emerged as a different kind of health care company designed to usher in a new era of wellness. One that provides our patients better, more proactive care at a sustainable cost, our providers unrivaled coordination of care, and our communities greater prosperity and stability.
As the country’s largest physician-led, tax paying, integrated health care system, our doctors can be certain that we share their interests and those of their patients. Together we are on a mission to revolutionize the way health care is delivered - creating healthier lives, thriving communities and a better world.
Steward is among the nation’s largest and most successful accountable care organizations (ACO), with more than 5,500 providers and 43,000 health care professionals who care for 12.3 million patients a year through a closely integrated network of hospitals, multispecialty medical groups, urgent care centers, skilled nursing facilities and behavioral health centers.
Based in Dallas, Steward currently operates 39 hospitals across Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah.
For more information, visit www.steward.org.