Potential buyer in play for former Groves hospital; see the details

Published 12:40 am Saturday, March 19, 2022

GROVES — A local businessman is set to make a formal offer on a long-closed hospital in Groves, paving the way for new development.

The man, whose name has not been released, reportedly plans to demolish the structures at 5500 39th Street and construct an assisted living facility for senior citizens who are semi-mobile.

But for now it’s an informal proposal.

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Groves City Manager D. E. Sosa said the facility will not be for individuals who are bedridden nor will the facility offer the developer housing credits.

Sosa said the businessman is trying to fill a niche.

“There are a lot of people in their early 60s and their parents are still alive in their 80s and a house may be too big for them. Or a husband that’s lost a wife or a wife that’s lost a husband,” Sosa said.

Groves Mayor Chris Borne said it’s good news for the city anytime unused real estate is sold to a potential investor or developer, especially property that hasn’t been used in some time.

Councilman Mark McAdams has been in office just more than a year and the old hospital is in his service area, Ward 1. He’s hoping the sale goes through.

“This would be fantastic if we could get somebody in there and rebuild something in its place,” McAdams said.

McAdams elaborated on the potential positives, saying not only would it be a great visual site and the potential for tax dollars but also would give local residents a place to go if and when they needed assisted living.

The long vacant professional building in the 5500 block of 39th Street could have a new owner. (Mary Meaux/The News)

 An “attractive nuisance”

Renaissance Hospital has been an eyesore in the city and a magnet for vandals and copper thieves. Also on the grounds is a set of vacant physician offices.

The property is owned by The Medical Center of Southeast Texas; however, upkeep of the property falls on its parent company, Fort Worth-based Steward Health.

 “It gets vandalized. It’s an attractive nuisance right now and we’re hoping they sell it and do something positive and for it to stop being an attractive nuisance for vandals and people looking to steal copper,” Sosa said.

“I don’t even know if there’s any copper left in there. If it gets sold that would help the city because then it would be in the hands of someone who would do something positive with it.”

 Lengthy history of ownership

The former Doctors Hospital operated successfully for decades before changing ownership. It was renamed Renaissance after Steve and Eileen Nguyen acquired it. The couple had been in the seafood business before opening the doors in 2009 with the mantra of providing quality healthcare.

But by 2011, employees came forward saying they hadn’t been paid in months. Soon after many filed complaints of theft of wages with the Groves Police Department. By January 2012, inspectors with the Texas Department of State Health Services began an on-site investigation.

Because of mounting financial woes, new management was brought in, headed by Woodrow “Woody” Moore, administrator with Foundation Surgical Hospital Affiliates. The company made major changes to personnel such as the termination of Eileen Nguyen, former chief executive officer, as well as the termination of former clinical and administrative personnel.

An aggressive plan was put into place after it was learned Medicare would not allow the hospital to participate in the program until deficiencies were corrected. Ambulances were diverted to other hospitals.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which took ownership from the Nguyens, hired Moore to get the hospital back on track, Sosa said in a former article by The News.

Bliss and the hospital lasted about one year before the facility was abruptly closed in April 2013 and again sold.

Jason LeDay of St. Anthony Hospital in Houston took ownership but never arrived in Groves. By January 2014, St. Anthony’s was also closed.

In 2017, The Medical Center of Southeast Texas, then owned by Iasis Healthcare, purchased the property. Soon after, Steward Heath acquired Iasis.