PHARR, Texas – The chairman of South Texas Health System’s board of governors, J. Humberto Rodriguez, says he is proud his group will have a presence in the city of Pharr.

The South Texas Health System Trauma & Critical Care Institute, the largest network of trauma and critical care in the Rio Grande Valley, is expanding its services with its seventh freestanding emergency department at the corner of W. Ridge Rd. and Dahlia St., in Pharr. 

This is one of the fastest-growing areas in Pharr.

“On behalf of the board of governors, we are very proud to be a part of the City of Pharr and it’s growth. Thank you, Mayor. Thank you commissioners for being able to allow us to purchase this property and make it easier for us to build this facility here,” Rodriguez said, at a recent groundbreaking ceremony.

Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez and some of the Pharr city commissioners were in attendance at the groundbreaking.

A $14.3 million dollar project, STHS ER Pharr will be a full-service emergency room capable of providing round-the clock care to adults and children dealing with emergency medical conditions including chest pain, broken bones, minor lacerations and flu and other ailments. The 10,884 square foot facility will provide the same services found at STHS’ other hospital-based emergency rooms.

Rodriguez also thanked Chuck Stark, regional vice president of STHS, and Doug Matney, vice president of emergency and urgent care for Universal Health Services, the parent company of STHS. 

Brenda Ivory, chief executive officer of STHS, also spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony.

“Our patients will be cared for by highly trained and skilled emergency physicians, nurses, radiology and lab technicians. And, of course, it will be open 24 hours, seven days a week,” Ivory said.

“STHS ER Pharr will have a full service lab, advanced imaging capabilities, including CT scan, digital X ray, ultrasound, and will be able to meet the needs of both our pediatric and adult population. Additional services will also be available. There are going to be outpatient diagnostics, including lab and radiology services. Health checks and screenings will be available to the community.”

Ivory said the groundbreaking “is one of the many projects that demonstrate STHS’s continued commitment to meet the ever-growing and expanding healthcare needs of the communities we serve.”

She said that whether a person is experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, a stroke or broken bone, STHS ER Pharr and its staff “will be ready to provide safe, quality, customer-focused care to the residents of Pharr and the surrounding communities.”

Ivory added: “It is really my privilege to be working alongside the City of Pharr, Pharr EMS and all the other emergency providers with this project. We’re looking forward to opening our doors winter 2023. And I just again want to thank everybody that’s been part of this project. It takes a team to get here. It’s a lot of work. And again, it is just a privilege to have the City of Pharr invested in what we’re doing and entrusting us with emergency care here.”


Tom Castañeda, director of marketing and public relations for STHS, also spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony.

“With a $14.3 million investment, South Texas Health System ER Pharr will help make an significant impact on the health of this community as well as provide a boost to the local economy by creating dozens of new full-time jobs. With the opening of this freestanding emergency department South Texas Health System will be home to 12 facilities, including 11 emergency rooms throughout the region. It’s all part of our commitment to providing quality, compassionate care to the people of the Rio Grande Valley, including close-to-home emergency and outpatient services in areas like this one that have seen tremendous growth over the years,” Castañeda said.

Castañeda pointed out that in the event of an emergency, time is of the essence. 

“Minutes, even seconds matter. Getting to the emergency room in a timely manner could mean the difference between life and long term disability or death,” Castañeda said.

“In the medical field, the Golden Hour refers to the period immediately after a traumatic injury during which there is the highest likelihood that prompt medical and surgical treatment will prevent death. While the exact time depends on the nature of the injury, medical experts say it’s crucial for patients to receive medical intervention within 60 minutes. It’s for that reason South Texas Health System opened its freestanding emergency departments in 2015 with the opening of STHS ER Weslaco and STHS ER Mission, to give patients close to home access to emergency services where they can be treated and released within 24 hours or be stabilized and transferred to an acute care hospital for surgical intervention or additional care.”

Over the years, Castañeda said, STHS has added freestanding ERs in in the Monte Cristo area, at Ware Road in McAllen, on McColl Road in Edinburg and in Alamo. 

“All of our facilities have been chest pain management certified and designated as acute stroke ready hospitals by the Joint Commission. Since opening their doors the six freestanding ERs have treated tens of thousands of patients, providing close-to-home care. In 2022 alone, the facilities treated nearly 120,000 patients, a 28 percent increase from the previous year. That’s an average of 54 ER visits a day per facility. The facilities are truly making a difference in the communities they serve.”

Dr. James Gratton, MD, is a board certified emergency medicine physician based in McAllen. He is affiliated with STHS. In his remarks, Dr. Gratton said freestanding emergency departments are a “great boon” to a community. 

“As ER physicians ER staff, nurses, it is a team effort. We’re here to give our community the level of service that they need. Pharr is an integral part of the Valley,” Gratton said.

“The health care that we can provide to the citizens of Pharr, the Level One trauma that we have in McAllen, the heart centers, everything that the community needs, we can provide and we are going to strive to do our best.”

Gratton added: “I’ve been with South Texas Health System since 2017. It’s an amazing system. I’ve worked all throughout the United States and I’m proud to be part of this system, where we can provide this level of care now to the people Pharr in their own community.”

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