HOUSTON - For the second-day doctors met their patients in the parking lot of Heights Hospital in Houston after the doors to the building were abruptly locked.
The co-owner of the hospital property on Ashland Street told FOX 26 Tuesday the lender is planning a foreclosure after one tenant didn’t pay rent for most of 2020.
Doctors spent a full workday out in the sun Tuesday while constable deputies guarded, locked, and barricaded the doors with wooden blocks.
The doctors told FOX 26 they are still very confused about why they can’t practice medicine inside.
"I really think that this is just atrocious that someone thinks that this is an okay thing to do," said Felicity Mack, MD, a family physician at Heights Hospital.
Mack spent her second-day treating patients in the parking lot and calling into the building through the barricaded doors. Constable deputies let her through, but only to grab some medical supplies.
"They’re screening what we’re taking out, which is bizarre, ‘cause they’re police officers," said Mack. "So I don’t know why they would know what health care supplies we need—and telling us to take some things back. It’s just a strange situation."
Two notes taped to the door tell a story of what went wrong. One lists a past due rent amount of $461,302.24. The other note lists a past due rent amount of $1,080,235.73.
According to the notes, the locks on the building were changed until tenant "1917 Heights Hospital, LLC" can pay the past due amount.
"Obviously there’s something wrong here where they’re not run the right way," said Michael Lohan.
Lohan and his partners removed their detox center from the hospital in 2020 after noticing the hospital management company had financial issues.
"At that point, there was a falling out, and we had to move the program elsewhere," said Lohan.
They’re now suing "1917 Heights Hospital, LLC" for a $300-thousand loan that was never re-payed.
Two other tenants are still being allowed through the doors of Heights Hospital: Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital and Advanced Diagnostic Hospital which contracts with a state prison, according to Dharmesh Patel, MD, the co-owner of the Heights Hospital building.
"There’s actually inmates in there right now," said Patel whose company AMD Global owns several hospital buildings.
Patel told Fox 26 he was paying the mortgage while giving the tenant "1917" time to catch up on rent. He says plans changed when the lender sold the loan to a new lender, Arbitra Capital, in late 2020.
"The new lender came in and said, okay, who hasn’t been paying rent?" said Patel.
"And we gave them the rent roll, and we let them know what the situation was a couple weeks ago, and that’s when all of this kind of spiraled downhill, and we just got the notice that they were gonna foreclose a couple of days ago."
With a looming foreclosure, what will the future hold for the doctors treating patients in the parking lot? Patel says he’s not sure.
"That’s like the crystal ball," said Patel. "I don’t know."
FOX 26 reached out to "1917" (the company accused of not paying rent). The co-owner Robert Day, who is named in the lawsuit, told FOX 26 he was meeting with lawyers and would follow up.
FOX 26 called the attorney for the new lender Arbitra and did not immediately hear back.
Texas Health and Human Services told FOX 26 any hospital must contact HHS before closing.
"HHSC has not yet received any notice of closure for Heights Hospital," a spokesman for HHS told FOX 26.