Dallas-based Steward Health is unloading several of its freestanding emergency rooms in San Antonio. The acquisition was part of a larger purchase by Methodist Health in the Alamo City.
The acquisition included five total freestanding emergency rooms, three of which were owned by Steward. It makes Methodist the largest owner of FSERs in the San Antonio area. During the pandemic, the facilities have been hurting for business like many healthcare facilities. An advocacy group for freestanding emergency rooms is lobbying for a waiver that would allow the facilities to treat non-emergent care and be able to bill like a hospital or urgent care facility.
Current regulations mean that FECs can’t provide outpatient services despite having the necessary staff and equipment. When a patient shows up to one of the centers for a COVID-19 test, they will be charged emergency room rates. “While the test itself might be offered at no cost to the patient, FECs are emergency rooms, and must bill the visit as an emergency room visit under Texas Law,” said Dr. Edward Wright, founding member of Prestige Emergency Room in San Antonio via release.
“The expansion of access points for all hospital systems is crucial, especially now during a pandemic. We have prioritized the sequence of opening these facilities, and will get them up and running with Methodist staff and physicians to address the medical needs of our community,” stated Allen Harrison, President and CEO of Methodist Healthcare via release.