A Roman Catholic health system has entered a joint venture to operate a psychiatric hospital in Texas with a for-profit psychiatric hospital chain that's come under scrutiny for alleged quality problems.
Under the deal, which closed on July 15, Christus Santa Rosa Health Care shuttered its 60-bed Christus Villa Rosa Psychiatric Hospital in San Antonio and transferred its patients to a former competitor, 85-bed Charter Real Behavioral Health System, also in San Antonio.
Both hospitals reported an average daily census of less than 25 for 1998.
Now, Christus and Charter co-own Charter Real through the joint venture, in which Charter holds a 54% ownership stake and Christus, 46%. They've renamed the hospital Covenant Behavioral Health.
The former Charter Real is one of 91 hospitals operated by Charter Behavioral Health Systems, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based psychiatric hospital chain.
Christus Santa Rosa Health is a three-hospital division of Christus Health, a Dallas-based system with 29 hospitals.
Charter Behavioral was the subject of a CBS "60 Minutes II" expose aired in April that appeared to uncover lack of staff training and abusive treatment of adolescent patients at a Charter facility in North Carolina (April 26, p. 16).
Charter has since closed the facility and reduced inpatient services at two other hospitals that had quality-of-care issues.
Also as a result of the expose the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations resurveyed 38 Charter facilities, including the renamed Convenant. While the results for the facility will not be made public until September, hospital Chief Executive Officer Jim Hunt said the survey turned up no significant problems.
Concrete discussions on the San Antonio partnership began this year but were put on hold after the CBS expose. In April Christus conducted extra inspections of the Charter facility.
"They wanted to ensure that whatever policies existed at other Charter facilities did not take place here," Hunt said. Far from finding fault with the hospital's operations, "We found that (our) mind-sets and our approaches to healthcare were very much aligned," said Christus Santa Rosa spokeswoman Talia Nye-Keif.
Through the joint venture, Christus Santa Rosa obtains access to a modern facility and expertise in the development of outpatient services.
The campus of Villa Rosa, which opened in 1971, is peppered with cottages built for long-term stays and is "not conducive to modern behavioral healthcare," Nye-Keif said.
For Charter, the joint venture provides a name change and a good deal besides, Hunt said.
"One positive outcome is being seen more as a local hospital," he said.
Hunt said the model could set a trend for Charter's relationships with Christus in other markets as well.
"I am a firm believer in the reintegration of behavioral health back into the medical-surgical side," he said.