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Houston hospital focuses on rebuilding after failed sale

Houston Chronicle, July 6, 2011

Nearly two years after it failed to sell its hospital in southwest Houston, the Memorial Hermann Hospital System is rebuilding it with a focus on patients and doctors both. For the large and growing Asian community served by Memorial Hermann Southwest, there is Vietnamese television, translation services and plans for a Buddhist pagoda. For the aging patient population, there's a separate emergency room that is less hectic. For the doctors, the 457-bed hospital has created a physicians' council to air grievances and chime in on day-to-day operations. The efforts are paying off, hospital officials say. Earnings before taxes and other expenses increased 72%, or $2.2 million, through the first 11 months of the current fiscal year. Officials declined to disclose net earnings figures. "We're not where we once were or where we want to be, but we've definitely turned a corner," said George Gaston, who became CEO of the hospital shortly after the sale was called off. "We think we've hit bottom and are definitely moving in the right direction."