University Health System and UT Health Science Center Renew Historic Ties with Long-term Affiliation Agreement

August 26, 2015

Fifteen-year agreement extends partnership and creates a framework for the future

University Health System and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have finalized a long-term affiliation agreement that extends their nearly half-century partnership. That partnership has delivered high-quality medical care to countless individuals and families throughout Bexar County and South Texas, educated tens of thousands of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals, and developed new and better treatments through clinical research.

The 15-year affiliation agreement, approved August 25 by both parties, was crafted to be relevant both today and in the future in a constantly evolving, complex and challenging health care environment. It creates a framework for the philosophical, financial and legal basis of continually aligning University Health System with the physicians and other health care providers of the UT Health Science Center.

“More than 50 years ago, the Texas Legislature required that a suitable teaching hospital be constructed near San Antonio’s medical school,” said William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, president of the Health Science Center. “With this new affiliation agreement, we renew our longstanding partnership with that teaching hospital, University Hospital, and the University Health System. This system is a valued community partner where our faculty members treat patients and where thousands of students have been and will continue to be trained.”

“Our affiliation dates back to 1968, and health care has changed greatly since then,” said George B. Hernández Jr., president and CEO of University Health System. “This new agreement will help us work strategically and collaboratively to grow and innovate to meet the needs of our community and trauma region today, and into the future.”

“Teaching hospitals are vital to America’s medical education system,” said Francisco González-Scarano, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at the Health Science Center. “Patients receive the best care at an academic hospital because of the training of health providers and the research environment of the partnering academic health center.”

The affiliation agreement is organized around four main tenets:

  • Building a financially sustainable and nationally recognized academic medical center
  • Developing existing and new centers of excellence to assure South Texans have access to high quality for the most complex medical and surgical problems close to home
  • Delivering comprehensive, compassionate and culturally competent state-of-the-art care
  • Growing and maintaining excellent teaching programs in medical education, nursing, dentistry and allied health

The agreement sets out a number of common goals, chief among them “an outstanding patient experience.” It sets forth “a commitment to the mission of discovery … to understand the determinants of illness and well-being, and to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care.” Finally, and importantly, it states the common vision of the organizations to be “the premier health system in the region … locally, nationally and internationally acknowledged as a destination for superior medical care and training of health care leaders.”

University Health System is the primary inpatient training site for the Health Science Center, and strategic collaborations between the two partners include:

  • Children’s services including pediatric cardiology and neurology;
  • The University Transplant Center, which provides comprehensive services for patients needing liver, kidney and lung transplantation.
  • The Heart and Vascular Institute, offering complete care for cardiovascular diseases including heart attack and stroke;
  • A strong and growing Neurosciences Center of Excellence, offering broad neurosurgical and neurological care, and
  • The Level I Trauma Center at University Hospital, providing life-saving care to injured adults and children from across South Texas.

The Health Science Center, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 13 percent of academic institutions receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. The university’s schools have produced more than 31,000 graduates.

The Health Science Center’s practice plans – UT Medicine San Antonio, the clinical practice of the School of Medicine; UT Dentistry San Antonio, the School of Dentistry’s practice; and the School of Nursing Clinical Enterprise – treat approximately 1.5 million patients annually. As with previous affiliation agreements, the new agreement makes provision for the partners’ educational, clinical and research activities related to each of the Health Science Center’s schools, to also include the School of Health Professions and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

University Health System is owned by the people of Bexar County. Its roots extend nearly a century to the founding of the Robert B. Green Memorial Hospital in 1917. University Hospital — originally Bexar County Hospital — was built as a condition by the Texas Legislature for bringing the new University of Texas Medical School to San Antonio. Both opened their doors in 1968. Today, University Health System is a nationally recognized teaching hospital and network of more than 20 outpatient health centers located throughout Bexar County.

Last month, U.S. News & World Report once again named University Health System the best hospital in the San Antonio area and No. 6 in Texas. This prestigious recognition is a direct reflection of the value of the academic medical partnership between University Health System and the UT Health Science Center; it is a partnership that offers the people of South Texas the highest levels of specialized care close to home.