Forest Park hospital employees get severance, healthcare benefits

Forest Park Medical Center Fort Worth employees will be getting two-weeks pay, severance and health care under a court-approved plan.
Forest Park Medical Center Fort Worth employees will be getting two-weeks pay, severance and health care under a court-approved plan. Star-Telegram archives

After seeing their hospital suddenly shut its doors after being sold to Texas Health Resources, former employees of Forest Park Medical Center Fort Worth will receive two weeks’ salary, severance pay and healthcare coverage, according to a court-approved plan.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Russell Nelms approved $1 million in financial support for the hospital’s 115 full-time employees, including nurses and support staff. The money was part of the $121 million that Arlington-based Texas Health Resources paid for the luxury hospital.

“We’ve put a plan in place that will allow healthcare coverage and severance while they look for new employment, which is difficult to do in a bankruptcy context,” said attorney Jeff Prostok, who represented the management group that ran Forest Park before the sale.

Texas Health Resources completed its purchase of the hospital May 25, the day after the former owners shut down operations at the 54-bed, 150,000-square-foot hospital.

While officials at Texas Health Resources and court documents had indicated that the facility could be closed for “several weeks or months,” employees expressed shock that they were suddenly let go.

“We would have liked a scenario where everyone stayed employed and the hospital continued as is,” Prostok said.

At the time of purchase, Texas Health Resources Chief Executive Officer Barclay Berdan couldn’t exactly say how many of the former Forest Park employees his company may hire. That could be determined in the next 30 to 45 days.

Getting the necessary licensing from the state also may take that long, Berdan said. He said the former Forest Park facility will act as a satellite to Texas Health Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital, located about 5 miles to the south.

While the hospital shut down May 24, employees not filing any post-bankruptcy administrative claims will receive a full paycheck for the two-week pay period that began May 22 and extended to June 4, no matter how many days they worked, according to Suki Rosen, an attorney with Prostok’s law firm. They also will get paid for any unused paid time off, she said.

Employees also will get healthcare insurance until the end of June, and those who don’t secure other employment by June 18 will get another five days of severance pay, Rosen said. A memo will be sent to employees to explain the program sometime this week, she said.

Texas Health Resources worked with Forest Park’s human resources director and chief executive officer to get the word out about job fairs, a company spokesperson said. Each former Forest Park employee will have to go through a screening and interview process. Several have already applied, and Texas Health Resources is working to move them as quickly as possible.

This report contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.