May 23, 2008
Cirrus Group's projects have physician ties
08:52 AM CDT on Friday, May 23, 2008
By SHERYL JEAN / The Dallas Morning News
When HealthPark Hospital in Hot Springs, Ark., wanted to expand, it looked to Dallas-based Cirrus Group because of its expertise with physician-owned hospitals.
Late last year, Cirrus bought HealthPark and formed a partnership with its doctors for a 60,000-square-foot medical office that will open in January.
"Cirrus looked at it much more creatively than anybody else we talked to," said Jason Spring, administrator of 20-bed HealthPark.
Cirrus focuses on developing or buying hospitals and other medical buildings where the doctors own a stake in the real estate or related businesses, such as a lab or pharmacy. It has developed more than 60 specialty medical projects in 12 states and is working on eight more.
The 45-employee company began in 1996 as a general real estate developer but has focused on health care for the last eight years.
"We saw an opportunity in the market, and not a lot of people understood health care," said Cirrus president Jason K. Dodd, who joined the company in 2000.
"It's not something you can just jump into. You have to be committed to it. We decided to really become students of health care."
Cirrus has grown by 10 percent to 15 percent a year for the past few years, Mr. Dodd said.
Most of its growth has been in Texas and California, where strong population and job growth have created a need for more health care services.
Cirrus is one of the biggest medical developers in North Texas, with about 20 properties, including Carrell Clinic Center in Dallas and Trophy Club Medical Plaza.
Texas has the most physician-owned hospitals of any state, said Renee Burnham, Dallas market analyst for HealthLeaders-InterStudy in Nashville, Tenn. That group expects the number of North Texas hospitals owned or partly owned by doctors to jump to 30 from 18 in the next few years.
Cirrus is building a hospital at Craig Ranch in McKinney, to open next summer, and a GlobalRehab hospital in Dallas that will open this fall.
Mr. Dodd thinks Cirrus' edge is its ability to understand how the medical model works and to design buildings around that model. It analyzes the number of beds, patient turnover, referrals, expected growth and other figures.
"Most projects being built today in Texas have a physician's ownership component," Mr. Dodd said. "That's what physicians are looking for – some control over how they treat their patients."
The biggest risks to the business are rising construction costs and potential federal restrictions on physician ownership, he said.
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