Columbia Healthcare Corp. executives said the company will build a $35 million orthopedic specialty hospital in Houston with a group of orthopedic surgeons who now admit patients to the city's two largest not-for-profit hospitals.
The new 50-bed Texas Orthopedic Hospital will be near Texas Medical Center, a 657-acre complex of 40 not-for-profit healthcare institutions.
Recruitment of the Fondren Orthopedic Group by the Louisville, Ky.-based chain could strike a competitive blow to two of its toughest rivals in Houston. Fondren's 18 orthopedic surgeons now admit patients to Methodist Hospital and St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, both located in the Texas Medical Center south of downtown. Most of that business would shift to the new Columbia facility when it opens in early 1995.
Jay Grinney, president of Columbia's southwest division, said Columbia executives had been talking with the Fondren physicians for more than a year about building a specialty hospital in the Texas Medical Center area. "It took Columbia's vision to enable the idea to become a reality," said G. William Woods, M.D., managing partner of the orthopedic group.
Columbia already operates five hos-
3pitals in Houston and will add four more next month when the merger with Hospital Corporation of America is completed. The new Texas Orthopedic Hospital will be just a few blocks away from HCA Woman's Hospital of Texas.
Until about a year ago, Fondren's surgeons had admitted nearly all of their patients to Methodist, said Darla Nelson, administrator of the Fondren Group. The group's offices are in Scurlock Tower, one of Methodist's medical office buildings. However, about half the surgeons' patients began going to neighboring St. Luke's because of managed-care contracts, she said.
After the new hospital opens, surgeons may continue to practice at St. Luke's or Methodist because of payer contracts, but most of the business will shift to the new Columbia hospital, she said.
The new facility will have 10 operating rooms and a 43-bed post-surgical recovery area. It also will have medical offices into which Fondren physicians will move.
In a related matter, Columbia and Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA set the date for shareholders meetings to vote on their merger. The meetings will take place Feb. 10 in Louisville and Nashville.-Sandy Lutz