High and dry

As part of the posturing going on between two dysfunctional organizations, the children’s hospital has claimed in a bankruptcy court filing that it might move to a different location.

Our county judge reacted with this statement according to the Times:

County Judge Veronica Escobar said that if Children’s Hospital was to move, it would break faith with the public.

“They wanted to leave the taxpayers high and dry,” she said in a text message.

Her statement was deliberately misleading.  The taxpayers voted to build a children’s hospital.  They did not vote to give our county hospital an extra $10 million a year from charging rent to the children’s hospital.  The county thus gets both our tax dollars to pay for the bonds and the money from the children’s hospital.  Our county leaders and the county hospital are the ones that have broken faith with the public.

Reality Checker posted this comment the other day:

If you consider that EPCH only occupies four or five floors of the 10-story building that was built with children’s hospital bond money, you begin to realize the level of UMC’s greed. UMC is charge EPCH more than $10,000,000 in annual rent, which works out to about $46 per square foot annually for the 225,000 square feet occupied by EPCH. Compare that to $23 per foot for medical space in Houston.

So UMC built the EPCH building with dollars earmarked for a children’s hospital and is now having EPCH pay for the entire building, despite the fact that EPCH occupies half the building or less. UMC of course doesn’t have to pay rent for the half of the EPCH building that it occupies.

Why is it that both our county officials and the media refuse to dig into the lease rates and service fees UMC has been charging?

Why is the county refusing to share publicly the details of both sides’ offers and counter offers?

Which is better?

High and dry sounds a lot better than getting soaked the way the taxpayers are in this deal.

We deserve better



20 Responses to High and dry

  1. cutting ties says:

    The Children’s Hospital is not 4 or 5 floors in a building.

    It is the Physicians, Nurses, and allied health care practitioners.

    Without these people there is no hospital.

    These are people, not indentured slaves nor can they be held as hostage employees by the County Shrew and her Merry band of idiots.

    They are free to leave at any time.

    The ignorance, arrogance, obstructionism, and absolute stupidity of Escobar, Stout, Valenti etc is beyond comprehension.

    They are threatening to forclose? On what used hospital equipment which is useless without the specialized staff to use it.

    At this point it is in everyone’s best interest, including the taxpayer, for Childrens physicians to form a speciality group and move to the new Tenant hospital on the westside which will be training most of the Texas Tech residents anyway.

    And Escobar should be removed from office and run out of town on a rail for her role in orchestrating this scheme along with Valenti,


    County Judge Veronica Escobar says …

    “If there’s going to be a negotiation with a strategic partner it should be with UMC,” she said.

    “If there is any other deal on the table, I’m not going to support it. That era ended Monday at noon.”

    The county hopes possible financial burdens can be eased for taxpayers.

    “The first couple of years will be tough. I’m not telling El Pasoans it’s going to be easy,” Escobar said.

    “But I think 10 years from now, 20 years from now, we could look back and say ‘Wow, those were a rough two years but look at the asset.'”


  2. ManintheMoon says:

    The bigger question to ask who gave tax dollars to a private business with zero oversight of our tax dollars to how they were being spent? The other question needing an answer is CH was in trouble before the doors open and it’s now clear this was a known fact so what was the reason for letting it spiral into debt and no one even tried to stopped the bleeding early on? Remember the loss was on the tax payers dime by CH’s failure to pay rent if one believes what UMC is saying. If the loss was on the tax payers dime then who would the buck stop with in being responsible in the end with stopping this loss of tax payer dollars? CCC??????


  3. Anonymous says:

    Children’s is 5 floors and occupies 4 floors. I floor is shelled out for future growth. Lower 5 floors are UMC. Presumably bond money was only used for Children’s. There was a press release sent out yesterday by EPCH Board. The only thing “our” paper (The Times) covered was Escobar’s and Valenti’s statements. There was a very small paragraph regarding Ms. Castillo’s comments. This I don’t understand at all !!!! Journalism is suppose to be fair and balanced. There are numerous people that should be speaking louder!!!


    • Reality Checker says:

      The public will never receive an accurate, detailed recap of how the children’s hospital bond funds were spent as compared to the original plan. We will also never see an analysis of how the charges for rent, etc., compare to the actual cost and debt service or fair market rates.

      The original budget included $74.4 million for construction, $19.8 million for equipment and furnishings, $10.8 million for professional fees, $12.5 million for contingencies and other fees, and $2.2 million for the cost of bond issuance, underwriters discount and bond insurance

      The architects who designed EPCH reported afterwards that the construction cost was $22 million. If they are correct, what happened to the other $50 million allocated for construction?



  4. Reality Checker says:

    I believe UMC has kept moving the deadline for negotiatons because the last thing UMC and Escobar want is for this case to go to trial. The trial will focus on the rates UMC has been charging for both rent and services. UMC and Escobar do not want that dirty laundry to be aired. The truth will probably be painful and cause public outrage.

    One thing is clear: UMC had a conflict of interest from the very start.

    We will never know the truth about UMC’s manipulation and mismanagement of the EPCH relationship. Escobar is making certain of that.


  5. Sam says:

    UMC is wanting to keep sucking dry EPCH. Their clinics are bleeding money and not to mention Jim’s big bonus at the end of his contract.
    How is UMC going to get JV bonus? Where is Escobar going to get the money from?

    The only possible answer… EPCH or the taxpayer. EPCH it’s an easier target.

    UMC doesn’t care about our children. They only care about the money


  6. Rodney Fender says:

    The taxpayers need to ride up and demand the details of negotiations and demand a change in the board members and the leadership of the county and both hospitals!!


  7. What bothers me most is that Veronica Escobar is the one who has taken sides in this issue, and imho, if anyone should remain aloof, and above this mess, it would be the Judge of CCC! Her posturing and her lies are only part of the problem!


  8. Haiduc says:

    Dear Brutus,
    You state you do not take sides But you appear to dislike UMC & Commish Court more than EPCH as greedy tax spenders…..so What is your solution to keep Children’s Hospital facility at the only medical school in El Paso to educate future Physicians viable?
    And….Hopefully keep them here to care for our community.


    • Brutus says:

      Actually there are no sides to take. The county hospital and the county government are the only things that the voters can hold accountable. The children’s hospital is not a government agency and we have no control over it other than deciding whether to support subsidizing it or not.



      • Haiduc says:

        Yes; you are correct in that EPCH is not a government agency (and their Board has run EPCH down)…so you still did not answer the question “so What is your solution to keep Children’s Hospital facility at the only medical school in El Paso to educate future Physicians viable?


      • Reality Checker says:

        You make a good point about EPCH not technically being a government entity. That begs the question of whether the original vote to incur public debt to fund a private entity was both misleading and wrong. UMC has also acted as a lender, providing loans to EPCH for operating expenses, which I don’t recall being part of the planned uses of the bonds.

        It is matter of public record that Valenti’s primary reason for setting up EPCH as a separate entity was to enable it to qualify for higher government reimbursement rates. UMC wanted higher reimbursement rates for EPCH, which UMC planned all along to bill for tens of millions of dollars annually.

        If as EPCH alleges and many suspect, UMC has been overcharging for services and EPCH has been submitting those inflated charges to the federal and/or state goverhment for reimbursement, that raises a question of whether UMC has been using EPCH to overcharge the government.

        It was a self-indictment for UMC to allege that EPCH has been wrongly submitting rent as part of its cost for government reimbursement purposes. Former UMC chair Bill Hansen and Valenti were both members of the EPCH board and Valenti still is, so they would have known all along that was being done.

        UMC, Valenti and Escobar are most upset that they overestimated their ability to control the EPCH board.


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