The only osteopathic hospital in Texas is shutting down amid financial problems, leaving 1,000 people without jobs and more than 100 patients in limbo.
The Osteopathic Medical Center of Texas announced the closure this morning, and the 119 patients were starting to be moved or discharged, interim chief executive Justin Doheny said. The emergency room closed this morning after employees were told of the closure.
The 265-bed hospital, in Fort Worth since 1946, emphasized osteopathic medicine, which treats patients as a whole instead of concentrating on specific symptoms.
Area hospitals are working to take in patients from the hospital, which was also the primary teaching facility for the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.
The 1,020 students won't significantly be affected because the school works with four other hospitals in Fort Worth, said UNTHSC spokeswoman Kay Colley.
Of the hospital's 60 interns and residents, who came from several medical schools, 48 have found other places to go, Doheny said.
Tan Ly was a first-year resident who arrived last week from Oklahoma City and was applying for the orthopedic medicine program. His interview was supposed to be next week.
"I had no idea. This is all new to me," said Ly, who hopes to go back to his former hospital in Oklahoma.
Doheny said about 30% of the patients usually are discharged on Fridays, and with no new patients being admitted, all were expected to be discharged or transferred by next week.
No surgeries were scheduled for the weekend, and the only surgeries that could be performed next week are for patients who require it and cannot be moved safely, Doheny said. Ten patients were in the intensive care unit Friday.
The hospital has had financial problems since the late 1990s. About a year ago, the board decided to try to partner with a hospital system. Eighteen organizations initially expressed interest, but the field dwindled to three in the last several weeks, Doheny said.
Unlike large hospital systems, the Osteopathic Medical Center of Texas was too small to have much leverage to negotiate higher payments from managed care organizations, so it routinely was paid less than it needed to operate, Doheny said. The hospital also had extra costs for teaching medical students.
The hospital defaulted on $82 million in bonds by failing to pay about $580,000 in payments due in August and September, Doheny said.
After negotiations with the final interested party fell through Thursday, the board voted unanimously to shutter the hospital. No decision has been made on whether it will file for bankruptcy.
"We turned over every rock," Doheny said. "There is nothing more we could have done."
The hospital's family medicine clinics and occupational health facilities will keep operating, he said.