“That joint venture went sideways,” says Barnett, Seton's president and CEO. “But Universal was very responsible with how they treated us as a minority partner. They showed great integrity.”
Through the joint venture, Barnett built up a rapport with Richard Wright, Universal's president of development. Wright and Barnett were having lunch one day, and, Wright says, he recalled reading a newspaper story about the cost of building Seton's 174-bed Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas, Austin. Dell Children's is the first hospital in the world to win platinum status under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, program, Barnett says.
At lunch, Wright says, “I said, ‘Charles, we've built over 30 hospitals with UHS and our predecessor company. We could save you a lot of money on these projects.' ”
Dell Children's was already under way, but by the time Seton was looking to build a new hospital in Williamson County, north of Austin, Universal had launched a new subsidiary to market the company's expertise in project design and management. UHS Building Solutions Inc., or BSI for short, has managed two greenfield hospital projects for Seton, and is also being strongly considered by another Roman Catholic system in Texas, Irving-based Christus Health, according to Christus.
BSI is not a major part of Universal's operations, and the company does not break out its results from the company's overall financial numbers, says Craig Conti, BSI's vice president and chief financial officer and also vice president of development for Universal. But it does provide a solid margin on its operations, Conti says.
BSI is a lot like subsidiaries at HCA and Tenet Healthcare Corp. that also sell services to other hospital operators. Nashville-based HCA's National Patient Accounts Services offers revenue-cycle management services for accounts up to 120 days after the patient leaves the hospital (Nov. 19, 2007, p. 6). Dallas-based Tenet owns Conifer Health Solutions, which provides revenue-cycle management and patient and physician marketing services (Nov. 10, 2008, p. 12). In all three cases, these subsidiaries grew out of a service that the company was providing from a central base for its hospitals.
“It's not a huge part of our business,” Conti says. “We don't have to do just anything to get a deal. We want to expand, but we will be very selective. You don't want to grow so big that you lose the heart of what your solution is as well.” BSI has 10 full-time employees and also can call upon Universal's employees when needed, he says.