GALVESTON — The University of Texas Medical Branch is contemplating expanding into Brazoria County through an agreement with the Angleton Danbury Medical Center, officials announced Thursday. 

Officials of the two organizations have signed a letter of intent to “initiate a process to evaluate the possibility of a long-term, formal relationship,” according to a statement issued Thursday afternoon.

Details of the potential relationship were still being negotiated, and medical branch officials said no more details would be available until today, when a morning conference call is scheduled. 

The move seems in line with the medical branch’s stated goal of expanding into areas where patients are more likely to be covered by health insurance or be otherwise able to pay for health care.

A teaching and research institution, the medical branch has traditionally taken on the burden of treating the state’s poor, but in recent years the school has sought new funding sources as it attempts to avoid deficits. In 2008, for example, as the organization still was reeling from Hurricane Ike, officials announced plans for a specialty center in League City offering advanced imaging, pediatric and adult clinics, outpatient surgery and pediatric urgent care in an affluent suburban area that also had attracted Houston hospital systems.

Areas along state Highway 288, which runs south of Houston, through Angleton to Freeport, are among the fastest growing in the region, according to the Houston-Galveston Area Council. Thursday’s announcement acknowledged that Brazoria County was experiencing rapid growth and was a medically underserved area.

“The goal is to strengthen both organizations in preparation to succeed in an accountable care environment while still providing patients access to the best care close to their homes,” according to the statement released Thursday, which noted that any agreement would require approval of both the ADMC board of directors and the University of Texas System Board of Regents. That decision and the related approvals should be made by late spring or early summer, according to the statement.

We are proud of the health care services we have provided to the residents of our community and are excited about the possibilities for growth and expansion that a formal relationship with UTMB Health would allow,” Dave Bleakney, CEO of Angleton Danbury Medical Center. 

Potential benefits of the proposed agreement for Angleton Danbury Medical Center and Brazoria County residents were expanded access to health care services and efficiencies through economy of scale, according to the statement.

The medical branch would benefit through expanded training opportunities for students and residents, among other benefits. 

Angleton Danbury Medical Center is at 132 E. Hospital Dr. in Angleton.

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