A Match Made in Heaven?

In 1994, when the city issued a Code Blue on Brackenridge Hospital's $21 million shortfall, Seton Healthcare Network came to the rescue. Seton agreed to lease the scandal-ridden hospital from the city and manage its day-to-day operations. The two tied the knot, for better or for worse, in the spring of 1995.

Jan. 13, 1994: Former Mayor Bruce Todd calls a late-night news conference to announce a $21 million shortfall at Brackenridge. Todd, a CPA, blames the losses on sloppy accounting and calls for the city manager's head. The accounting snafu may be real, but some observers suspect it is being used as a political weapon on behalf of privatization.

Jan. 20, 1994: City Manager Camille Barnett resigns.

March 1994: Brackenridge administrator Deborah Lee-Eddie resigns.

June 1994: City Council hires acting City Manager Jesus Garza to succeed Barnett.

January 1995: The city asks Seton to submit a proposal to manage Brackenridge.

Spring 1995: Public health care advocates accuse Garza of steering City Council's hospital management search away from the front-runner, a city-created public entity called the Austin Hospital Authority, toward Seton.

March 1995: Former patient services director at Brackenridge is indicted on felony bribery charges.

May 1995: City approves lease agreement with Seton, but not before state Rep. Glen Maxey protests the contract's lack of explicit language on access to health care.

October 1995: Seton assumes management of Brackenridge.

Fall 1998: Mark Gentle resigns his seat on the Brack oversight committee, calling its mission "a fruitless gesture of nominal oversight."

2001: Seton says it needs to change its lease to comply with the Catholic Church's ban on birth control services.

February 2002: Council approves a city-run "hospital within a hospital" at Brackenridge to continue poor women's access to reproductive services.

Spring 2002: Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman calls for a countywide hospital district.

July 2002: Steering committee forms to draft legislation for a district with city-county oversight.

October 2002: Seton asks the city for a lease amendment that would allow it to close the city-owned Children's Hospital at Brackenridge and relocate to a new facility, under Seton ownership. Seton later agrees to withdraw its request for a lease change, at least temporarily.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Amy Smith
The Work Matters
The Work Matters
A look back at some of our most impactful reporting

Sept. 3, 2021

Well-Behaved? Let's Assume Not.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story
Barbara Leaming's new biography makes the case that Jackie O suffered from PTSD

Nov. 28, 2014

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle