NEWS HEADLINES

Wren named hospital’s ‘in-house’ attorney

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, May 11, 2013

When Wise Regional Health System acquired Bridgeport’s North Texas Community Hospital out of bankruptcy earlier this year, a health-care system that already had more than 1,000 employees took on about 150 more. And with a new surgical hospital under construction on North Tarrant Parkway, that number will swell again by the end of this year.

That growth explains the need for one more employee.

NEW POSITION - Wise Regional Health System CEO Steve Summers (left) welcomes Decatur attorney Jason Wren on board as the hospital system's first general counsel. As the in-house attorney, Wren will spend most of his time on contracts and risk management. Messenger photo by Bob Buckel

NEW POSITION – Wise Regional Health System CEO Steve Summers (left) welcomes Decatur attorney Jason Wren on board as the hospital system’s first general counsel. As the in-house attorney, Wren will spend most of his time on contracts and risk management. Messenger photo by Bob Buckel

Decatur attorney Jason Wren joined Wise Regional Health System this week as general counsel – the first time the hospital system has employed its own “in-house” attorney.

It’s a sign of growth, and a sign of the times in the health-care business.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Jason on staff,” hospital CEO Steve Summers said. “Right now he’s getting familiar with our operation, talking to department heads, getting a feel for how things run here.

“It’s a huge benefit to be able to find somebody who’s right here in Decatur. It’s a good fit.”

Wren, a native of Decatur, echoed that sentiment.

“The hospital is a vital part of this community,” he said. “I saw it as an opportunity to be a part of a progressive organization that’s providing an important service and employing a lot of people. I felt like it was a great opportunity to be part of that, to help the hospital contribute to the community’s growth and provide services.”

Wren graduated from Decatur High School in 1993, earned a BS in business administration from Trinity University in San Antonio in 1997 and received his law degree from the University of Texas in 2000. He clerked for Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen before she was appointed to the federal bench.

He has been in private practice in Washington, D.C. and Dallas. Prior to joining Wise Regional, Wren had run the Decatur office of Walters Balido & Crain, a Dallas-based law firm, since April 2007. He and his wife, Jennifer, also an attorney with the local firm of Woodruff & Wren, have three children: Samuel, 10, Isaac, 8, and Anna, 3.

Jason’s experience is in civil litigation, particularly contractual disputes, health care and oil and gas related matters – “everything except family law and criminal cases,” he said.

At Wise Regional, most of his work will be dealing with contracts – something hospitals have lots of.

“For instance, when we acquired the Bridgeport hospital they had a lot of contracts for the same types of services we already had contracts for,” Summers said. “We had to spend an enormous amount of time evaluating those, deciding which to accept and which not to accept. Jason will read and evaluate contracts for us and get involved in risk management. There’s really not a lot of litigation.”

Having Wren on staff will likely not eliminate the need for outside counsel at times, Summers said. But he will be able to coordinate services with outside attorneys and represent the hospital in those situations.

“Having our own in-house attorney is new, of course, but we’ve grown to the point that it’s reasonable to do that,” Summers said.

For the moment, Wren is settling in and helping develop the job description.

“My role will be to take a little load off Steve, to free him up,” he said. “I’m excited to be here.”

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