DALLAS-Officials at Parkland Hospital have entered discussions on a possible lease of nearby St. Paul Medical Center.
Parkland, Dallas County's huge public hospital, is bursting with patients and needs more bed space, hospital officials said. St. Paul is licensed for 540 beds but staffs 308. Parkland is licensed for 940 beds.
If the lease or some other combination goes through, St. Paul would maintain its name and continue its Roman Catholic mission. It is the only Catholic hospital in the Dallas area.
St. Paul is cosponsored by Texas Health Resources, based in Irving, and Daughters of Charity National Health System, based in St. Louis, said Tanya Lefton-Harris, a St. Paul spokeswoman.
St. Paul is a few blocks northwest of the huge medical center campus in northwest Dallas dominated by Parkland. Also adjoining the public hospital are the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center, Children's Medical Center of Dallas and Zale Lipshy University Hospital.
The UT Southwestern medical faculty staffs Parkland and the other two hospitals. In 1996, the four organizations discussed merging into one but dropped that plan in June 1997 because of difficulties transferring public funds from county-owned Parkland to a new organization, said MacGregor Day, Parkland's chief operating officer.
Day said the parties "carefully reviewed the benefits of a combined organization and after a year's time realized the current strong alliance structure suited their needs. We didn't see a demonstrated mutual interest."
He said issues of governance and mission couldn't be easily resolved.
Day said Parkland needs more operating rooms and clinical space. The hospital hopes to complete a lease of St. Paul by year-end.
St. Paul's Lefton-Harris said: "There's no story to tell right now. They're simply talking about possible arrangements. We have no information. A month from now we may have something for you."
She said that Parkland, Texas Health Resources and Daughters of Charity are talking about configurations that could be worked out.
According to financial information supplied by HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare information company, St. Paul made a profit in 1995 but sustained losses in the past two years.
In 1995 the hospital earned $8.3 million on $137.6 million in net patient revenues. But the next year, it lost $6.1 million on $139.1 million in revenue, and in 1997 it lost $9.1 million on $141 in revenues.
Lefton-Harris said the hospital has been profitable in the first seven months of 1998, as its patient load has risen.
Parkland's financial results have been stable in recent years. It has little debt and has been making a modest profit, said Mark Terisi, the hospital's chief financial officer.