Friday, September 30, 2005

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Attorney General Abbott Brokers Renewed Collaboration And Cooperation At Texas Medical Center

HOUSTON - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today announced a successful agreement between Baylor College of Medicine and Methodist Hospital that ends a protracted dispute over the provision of health care in Houston.

The Attorney General is charged with ensuring that these charitable, nonprofit institutions meet their obligations to deliver quality health care to the neediest citizens and all who need care in the Houston area.

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“I have great respect for these institutions and am grateful we were all able to sit at the table to transform some serious differences into a cooperative environment of goodwill,” said Attorney General Abbott. “The ultimate goal is to ensure the highest level of care to the community, as well as to the neediest among us, especially the children of Houston.”

Key among the collaborative efforts the Attorney General mediated is a $16 million jointly funded program to reach under-served communities in Houston. The medical outreach initiative will focus primarily on early childhood immunizations, emergency care and outpatient clinics. In terms of children’s health, Houston has the second-to-lowest childhood immunization rate in the nation, which should improve substantially with the advent of this program.

“We have an opportunity here to invest in the future of Houston’s children by assuring them the good start in life they need to grow to healthy adulthood,” Attorney General Abbott added. “It is critical to all communities that children be properly immunized from disease early in life.”

Also under the agreement, the institutions – together with their various affiliated programs – have agreed to renew their commitment to recruit and train new doctors and to maintain enrollment levels in the residency programs. This effort will work to reverse the shortage of physicians and residency positions in the community. They have also agreed to expand, develop and support their joint research and teaching programs to provide the best services available in these fields.

Baylor and Methodist also agreed to bolster funding, medical research and teaching through collaboration between the institutions’ respective researchers and staff. The shared research approach will result in increased benefits for the future of medicine in Houston.

The agreement was born of efforts by the Attorney General and the Joint Cooperation Committee, comprised of board members of both institutions. Elizabeth Ghrist, a board member of Texas Medical Center, chaired the committee.