The state last week got involved in a lawsuit in which Texas Medical Center in Houston is suing one of its biggest members, St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital.
Texas Medical Center wants to prevent the tax-exempt hospital from negotiating a joint venture with Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., the nation's largest for-profit healthcare services company (May 20, p. 8). Under Texas Medical Center's rules, for-profit organizations cannot operate on its 675-acre complex south of downtown Houston.
In a filing with the 151st District Court in Houston, state Attorney General Dan Morales is requesting a permanent injunction to keep St. Luke's from signing a deal with the Nashville, Tenn.-based hospital giant. Morales contends he's getting involved because his office is responsible for overseeing charitable trusts in the state.
A hearing is set for this week to determine when the lawsuit will go to trial. It's scheduled for July 29, but that may be delayed because of the attorney general's intervention.
In other Columbia-related news, the company last week broke ground on a new $58 million hospital and medical office building in the Dallas/Fort Worth area within a month of closing one of its 17 hospitals in the region.
Columbia had pledged to build a new hospital in the growing city of Irving, Texas, which is located between Dallas and Fort Worth, after it lost a bid two years ago to buy the city's only hospital, Irving Healthcare System. Irving Healthcare merged with Dallas-based Baylor Health Care System.
Although Columbia has closed more than a dozen hospitals in the past two years, Columbia Medical Center of Las Colinas in Irving will be its first new acute-care hospital that's not a replacement facility. Last year, the hospital chain built an orthopedic specialty hospital in Houston.
Columbia officials are billing the Irving facility as a "hospital of the future" with "paperless" medical record and accounting systems and an on-line Columbia patient-care computer system.