What does sale of St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital System mean for you?

April 22, 2013 5:39:02 PM PDT
St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital System is being sold to Catholic Health Initiatives of Colorado that operates 78 hospitals.

It will put a billion dollars into the St. Luke's system, and another billion in a fund to pay for health care for the under-served. But what does this sale mean for you?

St. Luke's has taken care of Houstonians for almost 60 years. So the sale to Catholic Health Initiatives of Denver has raised concerns among some local patients.

"Actually nothing changes for patients and this is part of what the good news is," said Dr. Margaret Van Bree, St. Luke's Hospital System CEO.

Dr. Van Bree says the philosophies of the two faith-based hospital chains are similar.

"We'll still have our physicians, we'll still have the insurance plans that we had," she said.

St. Luke's has held a special place in Houston history because it housed the Texas Heart Institute where Dr. Denton Cooley's groundbreaking heart surgeries took place. Thousands of heart transplants have been performed here and the world's first total artificial heart implant.

Dr. James Willerson, President of Texas Heart Institute said of the sale, "We assure patients that our physicians will continue to be here for their patients, providing the very best, most advanced care and treatment in one of the world's finest heart centers."

St. Luke's is the main hospital for some 500,000 Kelsey-Seybold Clinic patients in Houston, and they say St. Luke's made a good decision.

"We don't expect any change with respect to where our patients are hospitalized," said Dr. Spencer Berthelsen, Chairman of Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

We're told some procedures won't be done under the new ownership -- things like birth control, abortions and infertility treatments. But Kelsey-Seybold says it will send those patients who need those procedures to other Houston hospitals.

St. Luke's had already stopped doing most of those procedures when it ended it's OB program. Another worry is the possibility of layoffs. But Dr. Van Bree says St. Luke's is so busy they're hiring.

"We're looking to hire nurses, techs, secretaries, and we have hundreds of jobs open and St. Luke's is busy hiring people right now," she said.

The sale is expected to be completed in early summer.

Find Christi on Facebook at ABC13-Christi Myers or on Twitter at @ChristiMyers13

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