University Medical Center Brackenridge

UT officials are considering a location near University Medical Center Brackenridge for the Dell School of Medicine. The medical school steering committee will continue to meet to make a more definite decision on the location.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

UT officials are looking for possible locations for the new medical school facilities in the general Brackenridge area south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

UT spokesman Robert Cullick said the area that includes University Medical Center Brackenridge, which is owned by Central Health and leased to the Seton Healthcare Family, is under consideration because of the close proximity to the current medical center and the main campus.

“The University is intently looking at that area — looking at facilities that need to be constructed including education, administration and research facilities.” Cullick said. “They’re trying to decide where these things can go.”

Cullick said although the University has selected the prospective location, no decisions have been made for the school, which will be called the Dell School of Medicine.

“Something might go here and some years down the path another building could be built. It all will be part of the master plan that is being developed,” Cullick said.

Cullick said the master plan for the design and construction has not been fully developed by the University.

The UT System Board of Regents approved the medical school in May 2012. In November, Travis County voters approved a tax increase to help fund the school.

The school was named in honor of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation following a $50 million donation announced Jan. 30.

Lisa Meyer, administrative associate to Robert Messing, the medical school steering committee chairman and recently hired vice provost for biomedical sciences, said although the location has not been specifically determined, the steering committee will meet several times in the coming week to make a more definite decision.

Cullick said the medical school and teaching hospital will work closely with Seton Healthcare Family, which is committing $250 million dollars to replace the University Medical Center Brackenridge, to have an equally up-to-date facility. UT’s medical school and teaching hospital will be funded by the UT System, although there is not yet an estimated cost.

“They will add more residency slots to provide more opportunities for students in the area to continue their education here,” Cullick said. “They currently have 200 students in residency and they would open it up a little more, and hopefully let in more UT students.”

Rosie Mendoza, chairwoman of the Central Health Board of Managers, said UT, Seton and Central Health are working to find an agreeable location through a memorandum of understanding between the entities. The Central Health board will meet with UT officials when the master plan has been developed.

“Our executive staff at Central Health has met with UT for the initial planning,” Mendoza said. “I think what they’re hoping for is to build a huge medical school campus, in one whole area. The specifics we do not know yet.”

Published on February 8, 2013 as "Med school site search narrows". 

This article was corrected after its original posting to clarify University Medical Center - Brackenridge is owned by Central Health and leased to Seton Healthcare Family.

Hospital visitors walk by the entrance to the Austin Women’s Hospital on Wednesday evening.

Photo Credit: Andrew Edmonson | Daily Texan Staff

Because of increasing operating costs and decreased state funding, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston may cease operating the Austin Women’s Hospital located at University Medical Center Brackenridge, a UTMB spokesman said.

Legislative budget cuts reduced UTMB’s budget by $114 million over the next two years. Spokesman Raul Reyes said the health system is responding by reducing its budget by 6.1 percent for the 2012 fiscal year.

“We are being more prudent in the way that we manage our costs and are implementing measures to ensure financial success,” Reyes said in a statement. “It is projected that UTMB will sustain a $1.5 million loss on the Austin Women’s Hospital contract for fiscal year 2011. We have to mitigate those losses.”

Reyes said one cause for the projected loss is a lower-than-expected number of patients.

“We staff based on the assumption that there will be a certain level of patients coming in the door, and we don’t have that level,” Reyes said.

Central Health, formerly known as Travis County Healthcare, owns University Medical Center Brackenridge. In 1995, it leased the hospital to the Seton Healthcare Family, a Catholic health care system.

After Seton could no longer provide contraceptive and sterilization services because of the Catholic Church’s Ethical and Religious Directives, the health department took back the fifth floor of the Brackenridge building in 2002 to open a “hospital within a hospital” that could provide those services Seton could not, according to Catholic Health East, a Catholic health system.

According to the UT System, in 2003 the city of Austin and UTMB reached an agreement for UTMB to run the Austin Women’s Hospital on the fifth floor of University Medical Center Brackenridge.

If UTMB does decide to withdraw from the hospital, there are currently no plans for Seton to take over the fifth floor for its own uses, said Seton spokeswoman Adrienne Lallo.

Reyes said no decision regarding UTMB’s withdrawal has actually been made.

“We’re considering our options,” Reyes said. “We just want to make sure we do the financially responsible thing for UTMB and Texas taxpayers.”

Printed on Thursday, August 4, 2011 as: Austin hospital put on chopping block

Texas Rep. Edmund Kuempel, a Republican from Seguin, died Thursday morning at University Medical Center Brackenridge following a heart attack.

Earlier that morning, the 67-year-old legislator was rushed to the hospital from a convenience store on Riverside Drive after complaining of heart pains. Attempts to revive him on the way to and at the hospital were unsuccessful.

“Once he passed out, he didn’t interact with the health care workers anymore,” said Christopher Ziebell, medical director of the Emergency Department at University Medical Center Brackenridge. “The heart becomes more and more difficult to restart after each cardiac arrest.”

First elected in 1982, Kuempel was the fifth most senior member of the Texas House of Representatives and chair of the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, which handles gambling legislation. He was also a member of the powerful House Calendars Committee, which determines what bills come up for debate before the House.

Kuempel had a history of heart problems — in May 2009, he suffered a massive heart attack while riding an elevator at the Capitol. He had a defibrillator surgically implanted after that incident.

“When he first came back after the heart attack he had last session, I came up to him and told him, ‘You old kraut, I guess God didn’t want you,’ and he just laughed,” said Rep. Jim McReynolds, who served with Kuempel in the Texas House for 14 years. “He’s just my brother. It’s a terrible loss.”

McReynolds described Kuempel as a man who was serious about policy and work at the Capitol but loved life.

“We called him Kissin’ Ed because he wanted to kiss everybody,” McReynolds said. “He’d walk up and down the aisle getting sugar from every girl on the House floor.”

Gov. Rick Perry, who was in New York on a book tour Thursday, released a statement mourning the loss of Kuempel, calling the late representative a pillar of the Legislature.

“He was already making a name for himself in the House when I got there,” Perry said. “I’ve never known Austin without him.”

Perry ordered flags at state office buildings to be lowered to half-staff as a show of respect for the longtime representative.