New owner hopes to save Whitney hospital - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

WHITNEY

New owner hopes to save Whitney hospital

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WHITNEY -

Employees at the Lake Whitney Medical Center received some good news after a month of management changes, bounced paychecks and uncertainty. The hospital announced Thursday that David Byrns and his Florida-based ownership group, Frontier Hospitals Inc., will now own and operate the hospital.

Byrns and his group own and operate 12 hospitals across the country ranging from Arizona to Georgia to Louisiana, but not one in Texas until Thursday.

"This is a great little town. You have a great dedicated staff of employee. A good group of physicians. And this town needs health care, that's why we are here," Byrns said.

Byrns says he was contacted by indicted doctor and former Lake Whitney hospital owner Tariq Mahmood two days ago to buy the Whitney facility. After a night of negotiations, they came to an agreement.

"I have been doing this for 28 years. My partner has been doing this for over 20 years. We have turned around probably over a dozen hospitals all across the country. We have never failed, and we don't intend to fail now," Byrns said.

Lake Whitney Medical Center and EMS employees who endured a month of financial trouble are now glad that the hospital is in good hands.

"Everyone is so excited that we are going to have a second chance with our hospital. We have all been very scared that we were going to lose it," Lake Whitney Medical Center employee Liz Drees said. "Now we are just thrilled that we are going to get to keep it."

The hospital lacked staff and doctors last Friday, and were forced to shut down their emergency room. Byrns says he will make sure the hospital is fully staffed, so a situation like that won't happen again. Lake Whitney EMS director Jimmy Hoskins says an operational hospital will be beneficial to local residents.

"Being able to transport your patients here, knowing that they are going to continue to still get quality care and we can still continue to bring them locally, instead of having to transport further away," Hoskins said. "That's good. Good for the community, good for the patient."    

Byrns hopes to save the hospital before it is too late, and hopes the community will help in the process.

"It's going to take three or four months to turn this hospital around and make it a viable ongoing concern," Byrns said. "But with the help of the community and the employees and the physicians there is no reason why that can't happened. This community needs that health care in this area."   

Byrns says he was asked about his interest in buying Mahmood's other hospitals, hospitals that are also in financial trouble. Byrns says he has no intention of buying any of those hospitals right now, and will stay focused on saving the Whitney facility.

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