Doctors were locked out of a Texas hospital this week and forced to treat patients in the parking lot after the owners failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent on time, according to new reports.
Staff members at the Heights Hospital in Houston were given no warning, nor a chance to notify their patients, before they were shut out Monday.
“We showed up around 8 this morning, myself and my staff, to get ready, [and] were told we were not allowed in the building anymore,” family physician Dr. Felicity Mack told local station KHOU. “We weren’t given notice to take care of our patients and let them know, so I’ve got patients that continue to show up today that I was supposed to see.”
A note on the door explained that the locks for spaces rented by 1917 Ashland Ventures LLC — the owners on record of the hospital — were changed and keys will only be provided when $461,302.24 in rent and fees are paid, KTRK reported.
“I tried to contact the owners,” Mack told the outlet. “They aren’t responding. The title company is not responding. We are really not getting any answers, but at the end of the day, my primary concern, like I said, is my patients.”
She managed to treat some outpatients in the parking lot — but lacked the equipment to treat others, including Linda Fisher, who is battling the lingering effects of COVID-19.
“It’s detrimental to patients and to myself,” Fisher, who was in a wheelchair, told the station. “It will impact my functionality. I get regular visits all the time, so I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Dr. John Thomas told the outlet the sudden closure makes it “very obvious that somebody is thinking only about money and not about community and lives.”
Property records reviewed by the station indicate that the building is owned by 1917 Heights Hospital LLC.
The attorneys whose names appeared on the letter posted to the door did not return requests for comment from the outlet.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, representing Texas’ 18th Congressional District, said a management company hired by the hospital took the action.
She called the lock-out unacceptable.
“It’s ironic that in the middle of the pandemic of COVID-19 when one of the patients locked out was a COVID-19 patient, that this dastardly act of confusion would occur,” Jackson Lee said.