By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

LHP Hospital Group announced today that Seton Family of Hospitals will partner with the company to create Seton Medical Center Harker Heights.

"Incredible growth in Bell and the surrounding counties and the overwhelming desire in the local community to have a choice in health care providers were two of the factors that drove our decision to partner with LHP Hospital Group in this venture," said Charles J. Barnett, president and CEO of the Seton Family of Hospitals.

"We share with LHP a culture that emphasizes person-centered care and quality services, so this is a comfortable fit for Seton."

Seton Medical Center Harker Heights will be a 180,400-square-foot building with 83 beds located on 22 acres of land at 860 W. Central Texas Express, stated a news release from LHP and Seton.

The site is adjacent to and just east of the Rosewood Living Center.

The groundbreaking is scheduled for the first quarter of 2011 and the facility should open by the third quarter of 2012, the release stated.

LHP already has selected architects and civil and mechanical engineers, and hopes to sign a general contractor in the next 30 days, said Tom Frazier, LHP executive vice president of administration.

Expanding options

That should put the groundbreaking sometime in late January or early February, said Pat Ball, LHP senior vice president of strategic development and public affairs.

The partnership with Seton will only expand the facility's ability to offer great health care to Bell County and the surrounding area because of its already strong market presence throughout Central Texas, Frazier said.

Seton Family of Hospitals is the leading provider of comprehensive, advanced health care services in Central Texas, stated the release. It also is a growing center for medical research and education, which brings world-class medicine to the region. It is affiliated with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, which consistently ranks as one of the top 20 medical schools in the nation.

"We are proud to join Seton in building this new hospital to serve the health care needs of Bell County and the surrounding area," LHP CEO Dan Moen said. "The hospital will feature a full-service emergency department plus acute-care services including women's services, obstetrics, cardiology, surgery, oncology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, imaging and diagnostic services, general medical and surgical services, and intensive and critical care."

Seton and the staff of LHP are no strangers to working together.

As with its previous company, Triad Hospital Inc., Seton and many of the leadership of LHP partnered to construct Cedar Park Regional Medical Center.

"Our company's interest is to do joint ventures with nonprofits," Ball said.

The hospital's campus also will feature a 60,000-square-foot medical office building to be developed by Rendina Companies, one of the nation's largest full-service health care real estate development firms, the news release stated. The building will be in joint ownership with the many physicians who will occupy the building.

Services provided at the office building will include family practice, internal medicine, cardiology, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, gastroenterology, otolaryngology, nephrology, neurology, oncology, rheumatology and urology.

Economic package

The city of Harker Heights has worked on an economic development agreement with LHP since September.

On Tuesday, the Harker Heights City Council announced that the city would be allowed to enter the agreement, but the city couldn't release the details of the agreement until it was signed by both parties.

The council believes the construction of the medical facility will create more jobs for the community, make the city more attractive and promote commercial and residential growth, and expand the city's tax base, according to the resolution passed on Tuesday.

"We have been working closely with the city of Harker Heights," Ball said. "We are very excited to put our facility there in a location that will serve Bell County and surrounding areas."

Other partners

Harker Heights is not the only local entity working with LHP to make sure this facility gets built, Frazier said. It has worked closely with doctors in the area, which is why the building's scope has increased from 75 rooms to 83 rooms, he said.

"Support for this project is overwhelming among local private practitioners," said Dr. Charles Day, president of Killeen Investment Partners. "LHP has involved the medical community since the project's inception, and we look forward to continued participation after construction is complete. Quality medical care will be enhanced for our patients by having a choice of possible options."

Seton currently operates 24 clinic locations including five major medical centers, two community hospitals, two rural hospitals, an inpatient mental health hospital, three primary care clinics for the uninsured, and several strategically located health facilities that provide medical care for well patients.

LHP Hospital Group Inc. is a privately-owned company based in Plano established to provide essential capital and expertise to not-for-profit hospitals and hospital systems.

In cooperation with local hospitals, LHP forms joint ventures to acquire, own, operate and manage acute care facilities in small cities and select urban markets throughout the United States.

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7554. Follow him on Twitter at KDHheights.

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