Updated 2:41 pm CDT, Thursday, August 9, 2018
The board of the Harris Health System, the county’s safety-net hospital district, voted Thursday to give its two Houston medical school partners notice it is terminating its existing agreement “without cause.”
The action triggers a five-year wind down of the existing contract, during which Harris Health and Baylor College of Medicine and McGovern Medical School at UTHealth will work to negotiate a new contract with “updated terms,” according to a Harris Health news release.
“We’ve been operating and negotiating with the schools under a framework that was developed 25 years ago,” George Masi, president and CEO of Harris Health, said in the release. “The existing contract language no longer reflects the realities of today’s medical landscape and does not lend itself to the goals of our strategic plan, which include modernizing our delivery of healthcare services to the community.”
The three institutions had been attempting to negotiate a new contract for the past 18 months.
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Under the agreement, Baylor doctors staff Ben Taub and McGovern doctors staff Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, Harris Health’s two large acute-care hospitals. The medical schools’ residents and medical students also staff the hospitals as trainees.
Baylor and Ben Taub have been partners since 1966. McGovern and LBJ have been partners since 1990.
Spokespeople for both Baylor and McGovern said they did not have an immediate comment.
Terminating the contract “without cause” means the two medical schools are not at fault in the breakdown of negotiations and Harris Health doesn’t want to terminate the existing agreement more quickly.
“The wind down gives us ample time to craft a new partnership that will be in the best interests of Harris County patients, taxpayers and the community,” said Anne Clutterbuck, chair of the Harris trustee board. “A new contract will give us the ability to implement strategies for the delivery of healthcare services that are in the best interests of the people we serve.”
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