Houston Chronicle

Heights Hospital shuts over rent, shocking staff

Lockout surprises doctors, patients; results of COVID-19 tests disrupted

- By Rebecca Carballo and Gwendolyn Wu

Doctors and patients were locked out of Heights Hospital on Monday after its management failed to pay rent, according to a letter posted on the door of the building.

Heights Hospital, once an acute-care hospital, is now largely an outpatient clinic providing office space for primary care doctor and specialist offices. The lockout, which doctors said happened without notice, disrupted care, including COVID-19 tests. Doctors pulled a cart into the parking lot with some medical supplies to treat patients in the parking lot.

Among the patients affected was Liza Fisher, who goes to the clinic on a weekly basis to receive care for post COVID-19 symptoms. Now in a wheelchair, she said experience­s migraines and tremors daily, and finding the clinic closed was distressin­g.

“If this continues I don’t know what I’ll do,” said Fisher, who is in her mid-30s. “It will be a complete disruption of my care.”

AMD Global, a Houston real estate developer, purchased Heights Hospital in 2017. Dharmesh Patel, AMD Global’s chief executive, and James Robert Day, a former Heights Hospital CEO, created two companies to own and manage the medical center, 1917 Ashland Venture and 1917 Heights Hospital, according to filings with the Texas secretary of state. Previously, Pennsylvan­iabased Select Medical Holdings Corp., operated the facility as an acute care hospital.

The letter informing doctors and patients of the lockout was addressed to 1917 Ashland Venture and Heights Hospital LLC. The letter said that locks were changed and a new key would be provided once back rent and other charges were paid. The contact for making payments and getting the key is Houston lawyer Miles Cohn, the letter said.

Cohn is representi­ng Arbitra Capital Partners, a Nevada company that recently filed suit in

Harris County court against Patel and Day in connection with a $28 million loan to 1917 Heights Hospital. Arbitra, which holds the note to the loan, alleged in the suit that it is owed more than $3 million in accrued interest.

In addition, the suit said, “Arbitra has been advised that 1917 Heights Hospital has failed to pay crucial management and maintenanc­e expenses for this property, including invoices for utilities, elevator repair and even property insurance — and that as a result insurance has been canceled.”

Neither Patel, Day nor AMD Global responded to requests for comment. Cohn and Arbitra also did not respond.

Doctors who practice at Heights Hospital said they had little informatio­n about what led to lockout.

“We showed up today to locked doors and the property management group is unresponsi­ve,” doctors said in a letter. “Unfortunat­ely, we were not aware the hospital management was in jeopardy of eviction.

“This is action is not only callous, it is recklessly endangerin­g the community as we will be unable to notify hundreds of patients who are potentiall­y positive of their COVID test results,” the letter said.

The doctors who work at Heights Hospital see patients from the outpatient clinic. The doctors don’t pay rent for their offices. The hospital charges insurance companies facility fees and the doctors receive lower reimbursem­ents, according to Dr. Felicity Mack, a family medicine doctor who works in the clinic.

Doctors who were locked out treat wound care patients, primary care, and post-COVID patients, according to Mack, one of the doctors who works at the clinic. The clinic gives about 100 COVID tests a day.

“At the end of the day all we really care about is taking care of our patients and we don’t want to have to deal with this in the middle of a pandemic,” Mack said.

The Heights Hospital building has long been a fixture along the popular 19th Street retail corridor. The hospital previously shared its space with St. Joseph Medical Center in the Heights, which closed its doors for good in September 2019 after “patient demand (had) not improved,” according to a statement from St. Joseph.

 ?? Godofredo A. Vásquez / Staff photograph­er ?? Liza Fisher, right, and her mother, Ann, showed up Monday for an appointmen­t at the Heights Hospital only to find out the doors were locked. Liza Fisher visits the clinic to receive care for post-virus symptoms. “I don’t know what I’ll do,” she says.
Godofredo A. Vásquez / Staff photograph­er Liza Fisher, right, and her mother, Ann, showed up Monday for an appointmen­t at the Heights Hospital only to find out the doors were locked. Liza Fisher visits the clinic to receive care for post-virus symptoms. “I don’t know what I’ll do,” she says.
 ?? Godofredo A. Vásquez / Staff photograph­er ?? Medical staff stand outside the Heights Hospital after they were locked out Monday without any notice. A letter on the door says the clinic will be reopened when the back due rent is paid by the management.
Godofredo A. Vásquez / Staff photograph­er Medical staff stand outside the Heights Hospital after they were locked out Monday without any notice. A letter on the door says the clinic will be reopened when the back due rent is paid by the management.

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