Triad Hospitals celebrated its first anniversary as an independent for-profit chain last week with a favorable earnings report and announcements of plans to build new acute-care hospitals in two growing, affluent markets.
One year out of the Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. nest, the 29-hospital, Dallas-based company is nearly done with divesting facilities that did not fit its strategy and is ready to buy and build more, said James "Denny" Shelton, Triad's chairman and chief executive officer.
"We're at that crossroads," Shelton said. "We find ourselves looking at some significant opportunities to grow the company," he told analysts during a conference call last week.
One of these, the largest project the company announced, is a plan to build a new, 180- to 220-bed hospital in the San Diego market.
The project is in the early stages of development, and the company expects it to take at least a year to plan. Triad hopes to replace its 27-year-old hospital in the Mission Bay area in San Diego with the new, larger one to the north, on a corridor near the more affluent Del Mar.
"Upgrading would be similar in cost to building a
new hospital," said Deborah
Brehe, CEO of 91-bed Mission Bay Hospital. "When you're retrofitting an old building, especially in California, it's a very costly proposition."
The Mission Bay location is in an area of mixed, dense housing with some mobile homes and commercial areas, said Leslie Walker, a spokeswoman for the San Diego Association of Governments. The median household income in the area is $41,862, according to association figures.
Del Mar, on the other hand, is a lower-density housing area with an older, wealthier population where the median income is $66,937.
Within the past few weeks, Triad has also acquired land in Las Cruces, N.M., and hopes to build a new $50 million, 150-bed facility there by the end of 2001 thanks to the area's rapid population growth, Shelton said.
Triad has two other hospitals in New Mexico, one in Carlsbad and another in Hobbs.
For the first quarter ended March 31, Triad reported net income of $8 million, or 25 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $35.9 million, or $1.20 per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue fell 15% to $311.6 million.