EDINBURG, RGV – This week a groundbreaking ceremony with a difference was held in south Edinburg.
Instead of picking up a shovel and turning over dirt, VIPs were asked by South Texas Health System executives to don hard hats and pick up a sledgehammer. They were then asked to smash the old Surgical Center of South Texas building.
STHS leaders called it a “Demo Day Celebration.” Once the vacant old North Point Surgery Center at 4702 South McColl Road, Edinburg, comes down a state of the art, free-standing, satellite ER will go up. It is the fourth of its kind in the Rio Grande Valley.
The other free-standing ER facilities operated by STHS are in north Edinburg, Weslaco and Mission. These three are all beside an expressway. The new one is interesting because it is just a couple of blocks up the road from Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. Over the last decade, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance has surpassed South Texas Health System as the largest health system in the Valley.
Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia said he welcomed STHS’ investment in his community “with open arms.” Garcia pointed out that the surrounding area used to be farmland. Now, he said, development was occurring at a rapid pace.
“I want to thank them (South Texas Health System) personally for believing in us and being a part of our now legendary growth that is happening every day in our city. I congratulate STHS for being in tune with our growth. It will help us meet the healthcare need in our city. A need that grows exponentially,” Garcia said.
Garcia said that while the official population of Edinburg is upwards of 89,000, a “better guess” would be 100,000.
“The good news for us is we are home to the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. We are the county seat. We are a major retail center now. We are home to the only professional soccer stadium south of San Antonio, and, soon to be finished, the largest events arena south of San Antonio,” Garcia said.
“We are about to be home to 12 hospital facilities. Twelve. That is more than any other city in the entire Valley. We are the fastest growing city in the Valley.”
Garcia said the City of Edinburg is “very proud” of the “strong relationships and partnerships” it has developed with local health providers.
“Together we are changing and saving lives,” Garcia said. “This free-standing emergency room will be a vital part of our medical corridor along Trenton and McColl, and that is important because, as we all know, people need emergency care. If they live on this part of town they can get the medical attention they need without having to actually go to a full-functioning hospital. This, of course, means faster service and, hopefully, faster recoveries.”
Garcia also spoke about the impact a free-standing ER facility has on jobs and the economy.
“It means more jobs for our community and by building yet another emergency room, putting more nurses, doctors, technicians and other medical personnel to work, new jobs for all those, you are giving those healthcare professionals and their patients another option. Another option as to where they want to work.”
Garcia said it also gives citizens an option on where they get their medical attention.
Among the medical centers in the South Texas Health System portfolio are McAllen Medical Center, McAllen Heart Hospital, Edinburg Regional Medical Center, Edinburg Children’s Hospital, and Cornerstone Regional Hospital.
A free-standing ER facility should not be confused with a medical night center. They are fully-fledged emergency rooms, only not physically attached to a hospital.
Businessman J. Humberto Rodriguez, a longtime board member of South Texas Health System, said the great thing about his group’s free-standing ER facilities are that a patient gets seen very quickly.
“I don’t know if you have noticed but you go by there and you see five-minute or ten-minute wait times. That is fantastic. The quicker a patient gets triage or is seen, the better the odds of a good recovery,” Rodriguez told the Rio Grande Guardian.
Rodriguez said UHS deserves praise because it has made a big commitment to South Texas over many decades.
“They keep improving that commitment by spending more dollars. People say, they take the money out of the Valley, no they invest back in this community, whether it be the free-standing ERs or the re-modelling of McAllen Medical Center or the $20 million-plus spent over the last three years in Edinburg. They are fully committed,” Rodriguez said.
UHS stands for Universal Health Services, the parent company of South Texas Health System.
Rodriguez has been a board member of STHS for over 30 years. He said he has seen the growth of the community and seen the difference free-standing ERs are making.
Asked who should get credit for introducing free-standing ERs into the Valley, Rodriguez said Doug Matney, vice president of STHS. “Doug was the one that initially started and got the idea from something he had seen way up north, I do not remember exactly where. It might have been in our Vegas market. It might have been in our King of Prussia market. It has been very successful.”
Rodriguez said that starting Sept. 1 Matney will take charge of UHS’s ambulatory services across the country. “Doug is going to have a big job ahead of him doing more of these free-standing ERs all over the country. He has been with STHS for over ten years and has done a fantastic job in building our team. We have a fantastic team together with all the hospitals.”
Rodriguez said he understands Matney will stay in the Valley even though he is taking on a national portfolio.
Rodriguez added that the growth of the Valley during his time on the STHS board has been nothing short of amazing. “I remember when this building was brand new and Dr. Perez, may he rest in peace, the orthopedic surgeon was one of the first doctors to do surgeries here. His wife was here today. I think it was in the late 1990s. That is progress and we are happy to be part of it.”