The Heights Hospital in Houston, Texas remains closed and is expected to remain closed after a dispute between the hospital’s owner, AMD Global LLC, and its creditor, Arbitra Capital Partners LLC, over non-payment of loans of more than $ 3 million including interest and costs for maintenance, repairs and insurance.
Patients and staff were not made aware of the situation until Monday, January 18, when they discovered they were locked out of the building, with all locks changed over the weekend. The hospital filed for bankruptcy the same day. Patient records remain locked in the building, while staff have only been allowed to enter the building briefly to secure their personal belongings.
The abrupt closure of the hospital was a violation of state law, which states that stopping a patient’s care with less than 30 days’ notice is illegal. In this case, there was no notice.
North Central Houston, where Heights Hospital is located, was already listed as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) according to the US Health Resources and Services Administration. This means that the closure of Heights Hospital, following the 2019 closure of St. Joseph’s Medical Center in The Heights, will only exacerbate the current crisis of poor access to healthcare for residents.
Dr John Thomas, a doctor who worked at the hospital before it closed, told the WSWS that since Heights Hospital is now closed, “I had to find a new location, so I moved and l ‘other doctors. “
He explained that there was “no explanation as to why, we never received a notice, it was just wrong.” There was “no communication with me, they had security at the door and that was it. Security guards won’t even say who is paying for it or why. Everything is secret. When you call the people who own it, they say they don’t know, and so does the management group. “
“From now on, no one will admit to anyone the responsibility of shutting it down.”
Asked what happened to patient records, he said, “Patient records are still locked. I have evolved, you have to treat patients as if they were new [at his new practice], all new records. “
A hospital representative did not confirm whether the hospital was closed or not. It is possible that a clinic with a doctor would try to continue operations in the hospital, but that would not change its fate.
The hospital has now closed at least 3 times in part or in full in recent years. In 2015, Select Specialty Hospital laid off 222 employees and closed its section of Heights Hospital, which at the time shared space with the satellite location of St. Joseph Medical Center. Select Specialty cited “business reasons” for the closure after operating there since 1998.
St. Joseph in the Heights Medical Center, an acute care hospital, closed permanently in September 2019. St. Joseph Medical said in a statement that “patient demand has not improved” and “the rate Heights occupancy rate – the rate of how many beds are occupied – remained below 30 percent. Keeping the Heights campus open is simply not sustainable. Now Heights Hospital has closed, leaving no short-term care in the immediate vicinity and expanding its doctors to other parts of the city.
Statements from St. Joseph Medical Center and Select Specialty Hospital highlight a fundamental truth of private and “not-for-profit” hospitals: Hospitals only remain profitable by pushing so many patients into one hospital at a time. This comes with employing as few staff as possible, often overloading nurses to the point that they have to sleep in their cars to avoid crashing on their way home from long shifts.
Hospitals also rely on patients with insurance and otherwise become unprofitable. It is likely that the high proportion of poor patients in the region contributed to the persistent unprofitability, with 20% of Houstonians living below the poverty line according to the US Census Bureau, and a quarter of those under 65 do having no health insurance.
As Dr Thomas said, what really happened at the hospital is opaque, there is little clarity as to who was responsible for the decision to close the hospital amid the deadly pandemic of COVID-19.
In 2017, AMD Global purchased Heights Hospital and Dr Dharmesh Patel and James Robert Day, former CEO of Heights Hospital, created two companies to own and manage the medical center: 1917 Ashland Venture, whose CEO is Robert Day; and 1917 Heights Hospital, whose CEO is Dr Patel.
According to Silver Flume, the official business portal for the state of Nevada, Arbitra Capital Partners LLC was not incorporated until August 26, 2020 and its officer is listed as CCS Management Services, LLC, which was formed on August 11, 2020. September 2008 and headquartered in Incline Village, Nevada, with its officers listed as Natalie H. Tiras and E. Alan Tiras. CCS Management is itself a branch of Centerpoint Corporate Services, Inc., which is located in the same city with the same officers. Centerpoint’s annual revenue is estimated to be around $ 500,000 on Dun & Bradstreet. Beyond the role in filing the complaint, it’s unclear whether Centerpoint or its agents are responsible for the lockout.
Dr Patel is a former COO of the now defunct Neighbors Health LLC. He is the Founder and CEO of AMD Global, a commercial real estate company that owns numerous medical properties including medical office buildings, outpatient surgery centers and micro hospitals. He is also the founder and CEO of Avail Health, which was developing hospitals in three states, and a medical billing company.
In 2015, Neighbors Health LLC made over $ 250 million in revenue and, at its peak, operated over 33 healthcare facilities. In 2018, Neighbors and 48 related entities filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to Bizjournals.com, and sold its assets. Each of the individual entities recorded debts in excess of $ 1 million, including a dozen debts ranging between $ 10 million and $ 50 million. Dr Patel was previously COO of Neighbors Health, but left more than a year before the time of filing for bankruptcy.
Heights Hospital was purchased as investment property – that is, property that had to be “flipped” and sold for a higher price, which was then indebted and allowed to go bankrupt. Dr Patel, given his long list of properties, probably has the funds to pay for the upkeep of the hospital, it just wasn’t profitable for him. Even if it didn’t, the debtors, as well as the government that gave trillions of dollars to the financial oligarchy, had more than enough money to step in and ensure the hospital continued to operate, but they didn’t. Texas Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson used the hospital’s disappearance as a public relations event, calling for an executive order banning the closure of hospitals by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, although Heights Hospital is already closed.
In a rational society, health services would function with all the support they need and on the basis of human needs, not profit. The objective need for socialism stems from the crisis of the capitalist system, and this is on display at Heights Hospital.