Health & Science

Owner Of Troubled Psychiatric Hospital In Southwest Houston Pleas For More Time And Money To Avoid Bankruptcy Closure

A psychiatric hospital in southwest Houston with a troubled past could be shut down as soon as Monday. The owner of Westbury Hospital spent today pleading for more time and money from the federal government.

The Westbury Hospital was already in bankruptcy and trying to recover when it learned that the federal government would withhold almost half a million dollars in Medicare payments.

Fred Bhandara is the hospital owner.

“These are the poorest of the poor and indigents who used to be under the bridges previously. It would be just a shame to throw all those people on the street.”

The for-profit hospital treats about 70 in-patients at a time and 200 out-patients.

Nationwide, the federal government has been stopping some payments to Medicare providers.

That’s because it discovered that some patients were in prison when they received treatment, and under federal law, Medicare cannot cover prisoners.

Bhandara says the data is inaccurate and Westbury Hospital has never treated prisoners. He’s appealing.  

“Eventually we will get paid, the problem here is we are living day-to-day or hand-to-mouth, and we just can’t survive.”

On Monday, a bankruptcy judge will decide if Westbury must shut down completely.

In the meantime, the hospital has sued the federal government to make the payment. The feds say they can’t comment because of the lawsuit.

250 hospital workers could lose their jobs.

Alfred Hodges works in maintenance.

“It means everything. Times are hard right now and it took me a while to find this job, and it’s not easy out here trying to find a job.”

Westbury has faced problems before.

Previous managers hired by Bhandara drove the hospital into bankruptcy.

Then the FBI raided the hospital last year as part of a fraud investigation. No charges have been filed yet in that case.