Bay Area Regional Medical Center in Webster to close, file for bankruptcy

Several job fairs held for affected employees

By Amanda Cochran, Sophia Beausoleil - Reporter, Cathy Hernandez - Reporter, Lea Wilson - Digital News Editor, Leigh Frillici - Reporter

WEBSTER, Texas - Local hospitals held impromptu job fairs on Monday after learning that Bay Area Regional Medical Center or BARMC, in Webster, had closed its doors on Friday and will  file for bankruptcy.  

Clearlake, Memorial Hermann Southeast, and Houston Methodist all held fairs specifically to help the 900 BARMC employees who found themselves jobless on Friday.

For some BARMC employees who went to the job fairs today, unemployment did not last that long.

Hospitals offered some job fair candidates jobs on the spot. Former Bay Area Regional Medical Center employee Eric Aguilar is a cardiovascular intensive care unit nurse. He said the process was fast.

“That's very welcoming. Clear Lake is giving me the opportunity here,” Aguilar said.

“I was over at Clear Lake and have been offered a job so I'm just so grateful to God that God provides,” said Felica McCray, a BARMC hospital supervisor.

HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division said more than 200 people attended its fair and it made more than 90 offers to qualified candidates.

Sixty-five people accepted the offers and 25 candidates are contemplating their offers. 

Houston Methodist also held a job fair. There are more than 200 positions open at its Nassau Bay and Baytown locations.

On Friday, 900 employees found out that BARMC was closing.  BARMC said employees will be paid for the days they worked. When asked if employees will receive any severance, BARMC’s spokesperson said people will be paid for the days they worked.

Felicia McCray described the shock of hearing she no longer had a job.
She was BARMC’s hospital supervisor.

“Shock,” said McCray.  “Disbelief.  Betrayal.  We were told at our last town hall meeting (that) everything was good.”

Nurse Stephanie Carlson was attended Houston Methodist's job fair.
Losing her job on Friday was especially tough for Carlson, who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer 

“My first thought was, 'There goes my insurance,'” said Carlson.

Signs on the facility doors today summed up the closure.

One sign said, "The hospital is closed and no longer treating patients. We will open at 8 a.m. on Monday, May 7, 2018 for employees and patients to pick up copies of their records."

The other said, "Emergency room closed. (There is no Medical Staff at this location) Please go to the nearest Emergency Room or Dial 911."

The facility transferred some of its patients to other hospitals, and everyone else was discharged.

Liz Turnbough, a mother who worked as a nurse at the facility said, “It’s been hard. It’s been hard. People have been supportive. They’re very open and loving. We were a family at Bay Area, so it’s really hard,” she said.

Jason Garza was a registered nurse at the medical center. He said he received surprise notice that his job was ending.

“After a few hours of working, they told us it was found out that the hospital was closing today, shutting its doors today. We don’t have jobs,” Garza said.

Garza said he started working at the hospital when it opened in 2014.

“(I'm) A little upset. That was very dirty for them to not give us some kind of warning so we could start looking for jobs or something like that, a courtesy -- especially to health care workers who are helping people,” Garza said.

According to an email obtained by KPRC2 from an employee at the hospital, patients were being immediately discharged and transferred to other locations.

Some patients showed up at the the hospital on Monday for their scheduled procedures. A couple said the hospital didn’t notify them of the closure.

“So here we are. There’s nobody there. ‘Oh, they’ll refund you.’ I said, ‘When? Today? Next week? Six weeks from now?" Sal Rodriguez said.

"We’re suppose to take an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging scan) this morning,” Maria Rodriguez said.

The closure is slated for Thursday, according to the hospital's CEO, but a spokesperson said, that as of Friday, the hospital was not admitting new patients.

“I pulled out the heart monitor just to see if anybody came. I was, like, 'Yeah, we got to get out of here,'" Loretta Boemio said. “I had a surgery scheduled for 2 o’clock, but a lot of the nurses are packing up and leaving. I don’t blame them, and I think some of them haven’t even been paid, so.”

A spokesperson for the hospital said the employees had been paid and would receive a final paycheck before May 7.

Employees had until 5 p.m. Monday to pick up their belongings. 

“It makes me feel sad for the employees but mainly the patients because my concern is: Where are they going to go and what are they going to do?” said Teddy Simmons, who was at the hospital Friday visiting a friend who had recently had a heart attack.

The medical community has come together, and several other facilities organized job fairs for Bay Area employees affected by the closure.

“It’s been an amazing outpouring of support. They just opened their hearts and their doors for so many nurses,” Turnbough said.

“I know this is a very stressful time. They’ve had a rough last couple of days and we’re here to help them,” said Kelli Nations, with HCA Healthcare.

A job fair for those interested in working at one of HCA’s 14 hospitals will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday at Searcy Auditorium, Clear 

Lake Regional Heart and Vascular Hospital, 495 Medical Center Blvd.

Memorial Hermann is hosting a career fair for impacted employees. A team of recruiters and hiring managers will be on hand to help find career opportunities.

Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital
11800 Astoria Blvd., Houston, Texas 77089
Professional Building second-floor classroom
Monday, May 7, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuesday, May 8, 3 to 7 p.m.
Wednesday, May 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Houston Methodist Hospital is also hosting a careers fair. There will be on-the-spot interviews  with hiring managers. Methodist is looking for emergency room nurses and offering a $5,000 bonus for new hires. They are also hiring for the following positions:

RN Flex Team (RN)
Acute Care Nurse Practitioners (RN)
Clinical Documentation Specialist (RN) 
Case Managers (RN)
Pharmacy Technicians
Patient Care Technicians (CNA)
Paramedics 
Phlebotomists

The career fair will be held:

Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Holiday Inn – Webster
302 West Bay Area Blvd., Webster, TX
Orion Ballroom

Laid-off employees said they’re taking it one day at a time.

“We were a pretty good group, so I’m sure everyone will find something,” Turnbough said.

Read the full statement from the Bay Area Regional Medical Center:

"Bay Area Regional Medical Center, LLC (Bay Area Regional) a diversified, integrated multi-specialty health care delivery system, today announced the closing of Bay Area Regional and will be filing for bankruptcy next week.

"Bay Area Regional invested $200 million during the past five years during construction and operation. The company continues to work with lenders on an orderly closing process, including the payment of Bay Area Regional’s payroll obligations.

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce that Bay Area Regional will close its doors on May 10, 2018. We want to thank our staff who worked tirelessly, physicians who chose to practice medicine and patients who received care at our hospital.

"Bay Area Regional, which opened its doors on July 21, 2014, has been committed to providing exceptional care while making a difference in people’s lives. Bay Area Regional offered some of the latest technology for physicians to provide advanced diagnostic and treatment techniques. With a pursuit of excellence, Bay Area Regional was recognized for having some of the highest patient satisfaction scores and many different service lines and achieved the highest level Chest Pain Center Accreditation, Comprehensive Center Accreditation for Bariatric Surgery by MBSAQIP, it was the first hospital in Texas achieve Center of Excellence for Hidden Scar Breast Surgery, Primary Stroke Center Accreditation, and a Level III Trauma Designated hospital."

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