Ill Treatment

Dr. Carlos Fernandez is battling malpractice charges and his business associates at the Bellaire Cancer Treatment Center

Kubricht hopes that Fernandez's absence will jump-start the Bellaire Cancer Treatment Center toward a profitable future. Ever the optimist, he envisions new doctors affiliating with the center, bringing in truckloads of referrals as well as ties with other institutions, such as M.D. Anderson, for instant credibility. And he hopes that the center's tainted past -- and mountain of debts, all of which Kubricht swears he'll pay -- won't ultimately kill the place.

The center already has a new hurdle to leap. Citing burnout, Lana Miller resigned on April 24, leaving the center without an executive director and radiation therapist. Mackert says a search is under way for replacements, but Miller is about the only person with a working knowledge of the business, and her departure may again throw the center in chaos. But she's adamant about not returning. "I'm tired," Miller says.

Russell Mackert has less confidence about the center's prospects. The associations with a doctor who has been stripped of his privileges, not to mention the line of creditors stretching to the horizon, may prove fatal. "It will probably create such a black stain within the medical community," Mackert says, "we probably won't be able to survive."

E-mail Bob Burtman at bob_burtman@houstonpress.com.

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