BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A state code administered by Texas Health & Human Services states that “all buildings in which inpatients receive hospital services are within a 30-mile radius of the main address of the applicant.”

When planning to build a general hospital in Brownsville, DHR Health had to secure a waiver from that state code.

The reason for this is that the planned Brownsville facility was going to be 47.14 miles as the crow flies from DHR Health’s main address in Edinburg.

In correspondence to the state, DHR stated: “The granting of the waiver will not adversely affect the health and safety of hospital patients, employees or the general public or the hospital’s participation in the federal Medicare program.” 

Moreover, DHR said, “granting the waiver requested would facilitate the creation and operation of the hospital, and would be appropriate when balanced against the best interests of the individuals to be served by the hospital. On the contrary, not granting the waiver could impose an unreasonable hardship on the hospital in providing adequate care for patients by creating potential federal regulatory issues.”

In its letter to Texas Health & Human Services, DHR said it aims to include DHR Health Brownsville under its existing license to avoid any potential federal regulatory issues due to DHR Health’s status as a physician-owned hospital.”

In the letter, DHR said DHR Health Brownsville will “operate in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and ordinances related to hospital health and safety standards, including but not limited to, the Medicare Conditions of Participation, state and local fire code standards, and Texas hospital licensing rules. No waiver of any rules related to the health and safety of patients, staff, or the general public is being sought.”

DHR said it operates under the highest quality standards. “Our inpatient hospital facilities are accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC), and must meet the most rigorous performance standards.”

“DHR said DHR Health Brownsville will be “completely integrated into the DHR Health system,” including a requirement for DHR Health Brownsville to receive accreditation by the TJC and being subject to “the same quality standards currently governing our inpatient facilities and enforced through our integrated quality assurance team.”

DHR said DHR Health Brownsville will be operated as a general hospital with 39 medical/surgical inpatient beds at single occupancy (59 at double occupancy), and the capabilities and resources to provide necessary care to the general public, including regularly maintaining, at a minimum: clinical laboratory services, diagnostic X-ray services, treatment facilities, including surgery, a 24/7 basic emergency department, intensive care unit with 3 beds, and 7 nursing stations with around-the-clock nursing care. 

DHR said DHR Health Brownsville will offer the following services: 

Family Practice Internal Medicine Endocrinology Neurology
Pathology Anesthesiology Emergency Medicine
Gynecological Oncology General Surgery Gastroenterology
Hand Surgery
Bariatric Surgery Cardiology
Colorectal Surgery

DHR said DHR Health Brownsville facility would be able to provide additional capacity during a public health emergency. In the case of a COVID-19 surge or future infectious disease outbreak/pandemic, DHR Health Brownsville could be quickly converted for higher capacity, DHR said. “The facility can be converted overnight into double occupancy and can operate as a freestanding, isolated, and dedicated infectious disease hospital.”

DHR said DHR Health Brownsville facility will comply with all applicable multiple hospital requirements with the exception of being located within 30 miles of the main address.

“DHR Health Brownsville will be fully integrated into the DHR Health organization and governance structure, unless otherwise required by law or regulation. DHR Health currently operates four inpatient facilities under this model (general acute care hospital, rehabilitation hospital, women’s hospital, and behavioral hospital). DHR Health Brownsville will be integrated into the unified DHR Health system and operated in the same manner as all four of our current inpatient facilities.”

In its letter to the state, DHR also said that granting the waiver will increase access for Brownsville residents to the most advanced health care services available in the Rio Grande Valley. 

“Patients at the DHR Health Brownsville will be provided with excellent care provided under the highest standards for quality. However, should a patient require a higher level of care than can be provided at DHR Health Brownsville, through patient transfer, the patient will have direct access to DHR Health’s vast offerings of advanced services.

“With over 70 specialties and sub-specialties and 600+ physicians on our medical staff required to take emergency call, DHR Health has the most extensive around-the-clock on-call coverage of any hospital in the Rio Grande Valley. DHR Health has continually invested in expanding the availability of advanced treatments and technologies.”

DHR listed these examples of the services it provides:

  • The region’s first and only Level I Comprehensive Trauma facility with the highest level of orthopedic trauma coverage with the Valley’s only orthopedic traumatologist;
  • the most comprehensive neurology services, including neuro-intervention, 3 full-time neuro- surgeons, a dedicated neurological Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and the first and only Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission in the RGV;
  • the only kidney transplant program in the Rio Grande Valley;
  • the area’s only structural heart program; and
  • the most extensive coverage of any hospital in the region for Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), Oral-Maxi facial (OMF), and ophthalmology services, to name a few. 

Editor’s Note: The above news story is the sixth in a series of stories about DHR Health’s expansion into Brownsville. Click here to read the first. Click here to read the second. Click here to read the third. Click here to read the fourth. Click here to read the fifth.

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