In 1953, Methodist Hospital first opened. Through the years the hospital found itself in severe financial trouble, and by 1996, something had to be done, so they turned to their competition.
Two years later, Catholic hospital St. Mary of the Plains and Methodist Hospital agreed to merge. "It was quite clear that mistakes had been made financially. So we were facing a crisis - sell out, bankruptcy, if that type of thing is possible, or merger," said former Senior Vice President of Covenant Hospital Rev. Ted Dotts.
For Methodist Hospital, all arrows seemed to point to a merger to get the hospital out of debt and remain a nonprofit organization. Former board member Danny Johnston says the community interest was always number one. "We never as a board from either side we never looked at anything other than what's best for health care in West Texas and all this region," said Johnston.
But merging two hospitals wouldn't be easy. For years Methodist and St. Mary competed against each other, but in 1998 it was time to join as one, but the obvious religious differences wouldn't be the hardest part. "Actually the two religions was the easiest part of it. Probably what was more challenging was the culture between the two locations. The St. Mary culture and the Methodist culture we're going to be one after competing for all these years," said Johnston.
"You had these two competitors now having to talk for the good of the Lubbock community and that made it most exciting and I think enthused many people where they thought a good could come out when it had been just a competition," said Dotts.
But Methodist and St. Mary were able to overcome being rivals and became the largest merger in Lubbock's history. Now Covenant Health System is the area's largest health provider.
"We felt like if we could merge those two hospitals than we could provide state of the art health care right here and keep people from having to go to Dallas or Houston or Phoenix or wherever they might choose to go and I think we've accomplished that goal in the 10 years that follow the merger we have a state of the art facility, outstanding physicians and I believe we have exceeded our expectations," said Johnston.
Covenant Health System just celebrated its 10th year.
From Lubbock General to University Medical Center