The Central Health Board of Managers on Wednesday approved a landmark lease agreement that will help transform health care in Travis County by allowing for the construction of Seton Healthcare Family’s new, state-of-the-art teaching hospital that will partner with the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. The agreement will allow Seton to construct the new teaching hospital on UT property, where students at the new medical school can be taught and trained. And it will ensure that the hospital continues to provide basic, safety-net services to vulnerable Travis County residents who lack health insurance. The new hospital, called Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas, will cost $295 million and is expected to open in 2017. It will replace the outdated University Medical Center Brackenridge. The hospital represents a major benefit of Proposition 1, a 2012 Central Health ballot measure that Travis County voters approved to provide funding for the Medical School and innovative programs such as an integrated delivery system for safety-net health care in Travis County. The agreement approved Wednesday will allow Seton to build the teaching hospital on UT property, and Central Health’s participation ensures that Seton will use the hospital to maintain safety net services for Travis County for 60-80 years. If Seton defaults on that commitment, it could lose its investment in the hospital.
“We invited the community to help us create an organized system of care, and voters endorsed the plan in 2012. These agreements are real milestones. They’ll help us create a system that provides greater health, better care and services, and more economic opportunity,” Seton Healthcare Family President and CEO Jesús Garza said.
The agreement is structured in two parts: a Ground Lease from UT to Central Health, and a corresponding Sublease from Central Health to Seton. It is part of a series of agreements formalizing the partnership between Central Health, Seton and their joint effort to create and support a Community Care Collaborative that will work with UT. These agreements require the Dell Medical School to directly assist Central Health in fulfilling its mission: to create and enhance access to health care for those who need it most. The faculty and residents of the Dell Medical School will provide Travis County with a supply of primary care physicians, and they will improve the availability of specialists in Travis County.
“Our ultimate goal for the Dell Medical School is to improve the health of everyone in Travis County and Central Texas – but especially our most vulnerable residents. A teaching hospital like the Seton Medical Center is absolutely essential to this objective,” Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston said. “We are going to have to approach this from every angle. Data is an essential element of the formula, but more importantly, we have to make sure physicians are able to spend more time with the patients to really understand all of the factors that influence their health. We have to make something of a cultural shift so that medicine and the way we teach it are focused on the individual, not on the numbers.”
Dell Medical School will welcome its first class in the summer of 2016.
“Back in 2011, Senator Kirk Watson proposed some truly transformational initiatives with his 10 Goals in 10 Years. When we asked the voters to approve Proposition 1 in 2012 to generate new funds to achieve this transformation, we knew our success depended upon strong collaborations between Central Health and other partners. The partnership we’ve forged with The University of Texas, and the renewal and strengthening of our existing partnership with Seton, mean that Central Texas residents will have access to high-quality health care services for the foreseeable future – regardless of their income level or whether they have health insurance,” Central Health President & CEO Patricia A. Young Brown said.
Services currently provided by University Medical Center Brackenridge are scheduled to transition to the new Seton Medical Center in 2017. As owner of the current Brackenridge property, Central Health is currently engaged in a planning process looking at how the 14.3 acres of land and facilities should be reused and developed. To learn more about the Central Health Downtown Campus project, visit CentralHealthCampus.net.