EL PASO, Texas - El Paso Children's Hospital, which became an affiliate of University Medical Center after bankruptcy reorganization in 2015, celebrated its fifth anniversary Tuesday.
UMC marked the occasion by forgiving $58 million in rent, paying all of Children's creditors and agreeing to wait until bills are paid to recover $48 million owed to UMC and taxpayers.
New Children's CEO Mark Amox just reached the 90-day mark, but as the hospital celebrates its anniversary, he appears to have a handle on what it will take to dig it out of the red.
"We have a contractural arrangement with UMC that's a repayment agreement, just like you would have with a bank," said Amox, who reports to the UMC board every month. "Last year we were in the hole. I think this year, over the last year, we've sort of dug out of that a little bit. So we're right at that break even point. Not anything to write home to Mom about, but we're getting there."
UMC CEO Jacob Cintron said the rebuilding of trust has begun.
"I see really regaining the confidence of our public," Cintron said, pointing out Children's debt to UMC continues to stay the same at this point. "Right now they are focusing on rebuilding and we have a schedule for when that is going to be covered. So as far as the monthly expenses that they incur, we are being fully reimbursed on time. So there is a lot of stabilization that's gone on."
County Commissioner David Stout is watching the situation closely.
"I think we've definitely turned a corner," Stout said. "Every hospital probably has growing pains and this is still a very young hospital."
Children's board of directors chairman Ron Acton said he notices a big difference.
"There's no noise! I mean, sometimes silence is nice," Acton told ABC-7. "All you hear is the relationship has been built between the Children's hospital and UMC once again."
Doctors at the hospital, some who didn't want to be associated with UMC, are learning to deal with the arrangement.
"It was rocky. It was bumpy. We've had more CEO's than we've had years open," pointed out pediatric hospitalist Dr. Lisa Ayoub-Rodriguez. "We're no longer in the stagnant period for the last two years that we have been in. We can see the future."
ABC-7 asked Amox where Children's is in terms of repaying that $48 million debt to Texas Tech and UMC, a taxpayer supported hospital. He would not offer an amount, except to say that they have "entered into a repayment agreement" and they are "current and on time."