New Life for St. Luke’s

By G. Jeffrey MacDonald
TLC Correspondent

The Diocese of Texas has received more than $1 billion for health-related initiatives, including more than $100 million for church planting, as payment in the recent sale of St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System.

The sale to Catholic Health Initiatives, a national nonprofit health system based in Englewood, Colorado, was completed May 31. Transferred assets include the Texas Medical Center campus in Houston as well as four suburban hospital locations in The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Pasadena, and The Vintage. The organization is now known as St. Luke’s Health System.

Through the sale, the Diocese of Texas parts with a 59-year-old institution that had become too expensive for the diocese to maintain and upgrade. In addition to paying the sale price, CHI agreed to invest $1 billion in aging facilities.

“We knew we were going to need more scale in order to navigate the future,” said the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, Bishop of Texas, at a June 4 town hall meeting at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston. “It is in the best interest of the diocese and the mission of this health system to sell.”

Proceeds from the sale will fund the newly created Episcopal Health Foundation, which will focus on the unmet health needs of the area’s underserved population. Exactly which types of projects or services will be eligible for funding from the foundation will be determined in coming months, said Carol Barnwell, the diocese’s director of communication.

In the meantime, CHI will sustain St. Luke’s partnerships with other institutions and will continue to employ its staff.

“We wanted a partner who would honor our family,” Bishop Doyle said. “We didn’t just want anybody to come in and do the business. We wanted people who cared about doing the business on God’s behalf [and] shared that vision that we are transforming lives.”

In keeping with Roman Catholic theology and ethics, St. Luke’s Medical System will not provide surgical procedures related to birth control, such as tubal ligations and vasectomies, which had been offered through St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System. Likewise, elective abortions will not be offered.

“Our ability to help underserved women and those with little access and less choice has been exponentially expanded by the creation of the foundation,” Barnwell said via email.

Barnwell said the foundation will spend only the investment proceeds from its funds, which (at four percent per annum), allows for annual spending in the range of $40 million. Of the lump sum received as payment from CHI, 10 percent — or more than $100 million — will be designated for church planting in the region served by the Diocese of Texas.

St. Luke’s Health System Transfer Townhall at Christ Church Cathedral from The Episcopal Diocese of Texas on Vimeo.

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