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McALLEN, RGV –  McAllen Medical Center, known to many in El Valle as “El Hospital Blanco” is having a makeover and much of its exterior will now be brown in color.

Administrators at the hospital announced the 15-month renovation project on Wednesday, saying that the institution that has provided the community with exemplary care for decades now needs to upgrade its appearance. The investment by Universal Health Services will be $22.7 million.

Speakers at the conference featured McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, McAllen City Commissioner Veronica Whitacre, South Texas Health System Board Chairman Humberto Rodriguez, McAllen Medical Center CEO Todd Mann, and Dr. Rudy Alvarez.

“The white hospital as we know it today, with its innovative design, really became a pillar of McAllen, not only for its architectural standing but also for the health care that delivered to the Rio Grande Valley at large,” said McAllen Medical Center CEO Todd Mann.

After partnering with Universal Health Services, Inc., McAllen Medical Center opened its doors to residents of the Rio Grande Valley in 1985. From then on, McAllen Medical Center gained recognition due to its consistent advancements, administrators said, and due to the addition of services such as the neonatal intensive care unit and the neonatal surgery center. McAllen Medical is designated a Level III Trauma Center. It trains physicians through the McAllen Family Medicine Residency Program to encourage medical professionals to continue their practice in South Texas.

In addition to its exterior color changing from white to brown, parking lots will be remodeled to create a new landscape. The interior will provide a hotel-like feel to heighten the comfort of patients and families, hospital chiefs said. Patient rooms will be remodeled and will include fold-out couches to allow family members to sleep close to their loved ones.

“The interior is focusing around the comfort zone of the hospital, we really want to bring that hotel style atmosphere,” Mann said. “It is going to start with the patient rooms, nursing stations, elevators, lobby, a new diner, a total renovation of this facility.”

Construction began the last week of January and will continue for 15 months. Changes close to the hospital were announced by Mayor Darling. He said the bridge on 2nd Street will be raised and the Bicentennial overpass will become an underpass.

“It’s very exciting to see that you know you are in McAllen when you see this hospital, so we are very excited about the upgrades,” Darling stated.

Rudy Alvarez, a medical doctor at McAllen Medical, spoke on behalf of physicians at the news conference. Alvarez said medical staff is looking forward to the remodeling since the latest medical technology will help enhance the quality of patient-physician relationship, and focus more on specialized care.

“That’s what patients can experience when they come into our hospital. They are going to see the protocol immediately activated. They are going to see the latest medicine that has been (introduced) cooperatively with the administration because the leadership in our hospital is one of the best ones that I have ever seen,” Alvarez stated.

“We believe that having families surrounding the patients is better care,” he added.

Humberto Rodriguez a South Texas Health System board member, said that while attention is currently being placed on renovation, quality of care will remain the leading priority of the hospital.

“I think this is really going to change a lot of things, never forgetting the number one thing – which is the quality of care for all of our residents in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas,” Rodriguez said.

“El hospital blanco is going to be gone but the quality of care is always going to be our number one focus.”