The Nix Medical Center is closing its 208-bed acute care facility in downtown San Antonio, but the provider’s two behavioral health service locations will stay open, its owner said Tuesday. 

The hospital’s Los Angeles parent company, Prospect Medical Holdings, notified the Texas Workforce Commission on Aug. 23 indicating its intention to begin closing the downtown facility by “sometime in October or November 2019,” in order to “focus its resources on maintaining and growing its behavioral health services in the San Antonio area.”

Citing a “decline in community demand” for its acute care services at the downtown hospital, the company plans to lay off as many as 585 employees, most of which are employed at its historic 414 Navarro St. location. Nix also will shut down its home health department, which includes 18 primarily off-site employees.

A specific closing date has not been confirmed by Prospect, but the Aug. 23 letter provided to the TWC and many Nix employees served as the 60-day notice required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which requires employers of a certain size to provide notice in advance of plant closures or widespread layoffs. 

The first round of staff layoffs are set to begin on Oct. 21, according to the letter. Additional layoffs will occur at a later date and affected employees will receive a 60-day notice in advance. 

The 128 registered nurses, 13 medical assistants, 12 mental health technicians, and hundreds of others whose jobs are being terminated in the facility closure will be invited to an on-site job fair hosted by Nix at which employees can connect with other local health providers and outplacement services.

Nix Health has been in San Antonio since 1930 and operates the Nix Medical Center downtown, Nix Alamo Heights, two behavioral health centers, a sleep clinic, and physician offices for its home health care program. All but the behavioral health facilities, one located near the South Texas Medical Center and one on Vance Jackson Road just north of Loop 410, are closing.

The facilities are the only ones in Texas owned by Prospect, which has acquired 20 hospitals and more than 165 primary and specialty clinics throughout its regional network since forming in 1996.

Prospect bought Nix Health in 2012 from Kentucky-based Merit Health Systems and began seeking a local or national buyer for the downtown hospital and four affiliated medical facilities in April.

Prospect said “the closure of Nix Medical Center should not impact the community’s ability to access care,” as there are “numerous health care facilities, including five full-service acute care hospitals with 24-hour emergency rooms” within the 10-mile area surrounding the downtown hospital.

Prospect said it is “in discussions with other parties regarding the future of the downtown hospital property.” The high-rise building is located on the River Walk.

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.