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Med center protests possible sale

Jan. 24, 1997

By Amy Priour

Lariat Staff Writer

In response to last Friday's announcement by University administration and regents that the University is investigating options about what to do with the Baylor Health Care System, one of the system's subsidiary hospitals placed a full-page advertisement in Thursday's edition of The Dallas Morning News stating it is 'adamantly opposed to the sale of Baylor Health Care System to a for-profit corporation.'

The ad, placed by the Baylor Medical Center at Garland, a Dallas suburb, further states that such a sale 'will destroy the community spirit and undermine the mission of providing health care to all citizens.'

The ad contained a resolution that the Board of Trustees of the Medical Center are opposed to the sale to any for-profit corporation, keeping with the original purpose of the hospital which is to serve the community with an unselfish concern toward health care service as an extension of the Christian ministry of healing. They also said they need the authority to form alliances with other non-profit health care organizations.

The open retail rate for a full-page ad in The Dallas Morning News is $24,697.26, said Mitch Howell, national sales coordinator for the Morning News. However, he said the Medical Center paid less than this amount but would not specify how much.

'My phone has been ringing off the hook. People are very upset,' JoAnn Reed, a trustee of the Baylor Medical Center at Garland, said.

'This hospital was built by the community as a service to the community,' Reed said.

She said the land was donated and many volunteer hours were put into building the hospital, and that it was 'inappropriate, to say the very least,' to sell something that was a service to the community for a profit.

The ad urged people who agree with the resolution to write or call the University President and Board of Regents and listed their addresses and phone numbers.

Judy Higgins, assistant to regent Walker G. Harman of Dallas, said Harman's office had received at least 10 phone calls.

'Every person I have talked to has been vehemently opposed to having the hospital switched to profit,' Higgins said.

Many concerned people have also called Dale Jones, a Dallas regent and vice chairman of the Halliburton Company.

Jones said he received quite a few phone calls and stressed that 'some have just expressed they hope we have an open mind.'

The First Baptist Church of Dallas made the names, addresses and phone numbers of the University's regents and president available to members at the church's Wednesday night prayer meeting, confirmed Marsha Wills, the pastor's secretary. The pastor, Dr. O.S. Hawkins, was unable for comment and Wills did not have any further information.

Dr. Stan Madden, vice president of University marketing, was unavailable on Thursday afternoon, but he left a voice mail message for The Baylor Lariat saying the University had no further comments at this time and that all previous comments made by University administrators were still true.

In Tuesday's edition of The Baylor Lariat , Madden said the University had six options: do nothing, network with other nonprofits, buy other health care facilities, enter into a joint venture with a for-profit, consolidate with other nonprofits or sell to a for-profit.

'We're still very early in the process,'' regent chairman Randy Fields of San Antonio said about the University's decision. 'It's too early to tell.'

Fields said he received constant phone calls after the ad was published Thursday.

'If I read you the list, we'd be here all night,' he said.

President Robert B. Sloan Jr. discussed Wednesday in Chapel-Forum the possible sale or consolidation of the Baylor Health Care System. He could not be reached Thursday for comment on the ad.

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