By Rebecca Rose

Killeen Daily Herald

With Seton Medical Center Harker Heights set to open Monday, a new era of regional healthcare is ushered in as Bell County now boasts three major hospital complexes.

Seton joins Metroplex Hospital in Killeen and Scott & White Hospital in Temple in striving to define their own unique patient offerings.


At one time, Metroplex was the only hospital in Killeen, but today, the facility is a five-story complex and with more than 1,200 employees, the hospital is the city's fourth largest employer.

Like most regional health institutions, Metroplex has a significant financial impact on the area.

Out of $99.4 million of total expenses, Metroplex spent $46 million in salaries and wages alone," said Desirae Franco, Metroplex spokesperson. "(The hospital) also spent an additional $15 million in community benefits, such as underprivileged healthcare, community outreach, and infrastructure improvement and expansion."

Ginger Henderson, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services, said after more than 30 years with the hospital, many things have changed, including specialty training.

"We encourage our nurses to receive a higher level of training," she said. "Metroplex encourages this for every area."

Henderson said one of the ways Metroplex distinguishes itself in the region is through state of the art patient safety initiatives. Scanned bar codes on patient wrist bands and computerized physician orders help ensure patient safety, she said. "When we had paper records, it could sometimes be hard to read a physician's order. By having it on the computer, it decreases the likelihood of misinterpretation."

While Metroplex is home to some of the area's most cutting edge practices and technologies, hospital leaders credit more than just machines for its success.

Carlyle Walton, president and CEO of Metroplex, said while technological innovations in the field continue to impress and astound him, it's not what makes the hospital stand out.

"I don't think, in my career, I have ever received a complimentary letter from a patient that said anything about the machines," said Walton. "What (patients) remember is the care and the compassion that they receive."


Encompassing one of the nation's largest multi-specialty group practices, Scott & White provides care across more than 30,000-square-miles and currently partners with educational institutions to train more than 400 medical residents and fellows from Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.

With an estimated regional economic impact of more than $250 million annually, Scott & White employs 7,155 workers at its main campus, 429 at McLane Children's Hospital and 922 in clinics throughout Bell and Coryell counties.

Robert Pryor, president and CEO of Scott & White Healthcare, said the Temple hospital has the ability to match big city hospitals with technology and talent, and offer advanced procedures including heart transplants.

At 1.8 million square feet, and a main campus covering 253 acres, Scott & White is one of the largest hospitals in Texas, but better health care doesn't necessarily mean bigger hospitals.

"Success would be to decrease, not increase hospital beds," said Pryor. "We don't want to get like some of the big city hospitals that have excess beds. With overbuilding, the cost goes up, because the tendency is to admit more patients to cover costs."

Pryor said current initiatives on the horizon include plans to institute a lung transplant program and to extend hours of care at different facilities.

Pryor said one of the most important advances in recent years is the addition of the McLane Children's Hospital, a free-standing pediatric facility that opened in October 2011.

Dr. John Boyd, CEO and chief medical officer of the children's facility, said the hospital offers complete pediatric care.

"When you walk through the doors of our children's hospital, you can sense a difference," said Boyd. "It's a different culture and different attitude. (We are) all focused on patient, child and the families."


In 2008, Scott & White became a minority partner with Adventist Health System, corporate operator of Metroplex Health System, taking over 32 percent ownership of the hospital. When Scott & White partnered with King's Daughters Hospital more than two years ago, the health care giant effectively became the only system in the region, employing many of the area's doctors.

Seton CEO Matt Maxfield, former CEO of Brownwood Regional Medical Center, said a group of local doctors approached LHP Hospital Group and Seton about two years ago with an idea to offer another choice for patient care in the region.

"(They) wanted to see an alternative health care system in their community," said Maxfield.

The result is evidenced by a time lapse camera on Seton's website showing the full scope of the completed effort-14 months of unearthing dirt, erecting steel skeletons, pouring concrete walls, paving parking lots - culminating in the creation of a state of the art medical complex.

Maxfield says his goal is community integration and growth that is more than just physical.

"My vision is that (it) grows...and reaches into the community," he said. "We want every patient that comes through the door to have comprehensive, complete clinical care."

Seton opens for patients on Monday.

Contact Rebecca Rose at or (254) 501-7548. Follow her on Twitter at KDHBusinessNews.



In 2011 the facility saw 120,373 outpatients and had 9,066 admissions in more than 30 departments.

For more information visit

Scott & White

The healthcare system owns, partners or manages a dozen hospital sites, more than 65 clinics and a health plan with more than 223,000 people.

For more information visit


With more than 275 current employees, the $100 million 192,400-square-foot three-story hospital will house 83 licensed beds, a full-service emergency department, all-electronic medical records, an intensive care unit, women's services, medical and surgical services, imaging and diagnostic, a helipad and a 60,000-square-foot medical pavilion adjacent to the main hospital.

For more information visit

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