Sunday, October 26, 2008

Shannon Trust Balloons as Health System Unwinds

Shannon is a series of contrasts. The Shannon Health System continues to unravel with the closure of Legacy Health Plan and the departure of Triumph Hospital, a long term acute care facility on Shannon Medical Center's sixth floor.

Yet, the Shannon Estate experienced significant asset growth with high oil prices. Their 990's, filed with the IRS, show net assets/fund balances grew by $50 million from 2005 to 2007. That's over 33% growth.

Add the hospital's bottom line, a total $17 million from 2004-2006, and one might things are hunky dory. Not so. The Trust was so concerned in 2006, they approved the sale of Shannon Medical Center to Triad Hospitals Inc. That deal fell apart, enabling San Angelo to keep our only remaining nonprofit, community hospital.

Dr. Dan Stultz departed shortly before as head of the Shannon Health System. He was not replaced. Then came the dismantling of the Angelo Clinic Association, the multi-specialty physician group doing business as the Shannon Clinic. Not every physician stayed, but a mass exodus of doctors did not occur.

Shannon's rural health clinics are few and far between relative to their heyday. Their 2006 report showed only three clinics. Their website indicates only two remain, one in Ozona and one in Del Rio.

Many of the signature elements of the system have closed or will do so shortly. But they did add a joint venture for dialysis care and a real estate division. Shannon has as part of its history:

Today, the boundaries of the Shannons' early vision for a community hospital have grown to meet the challenges of providing healthcare into the next century. Just as the Shannon ranches grew to encompass more sections of West Texas, so has the need to bring healthcare to more people. This growth and the development of new ways to provide care have led the Shannon Board of Trustees to establish the Shannon Health System. This decision is truly a pioneer effort for Texas, a confident step forward with new ways of thinking and doing business as we embrace the future of healthcare in West Texas.

In light of recent developments, might it need rewriting? Is the future of healthcare, the past. with many going without needed care?

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