Study recommends Medical Center area for proposed children's hospital

Bexar County Judge: 'That’s up to whoever builds it'

Published On: May 18 2012 04:31:37 PM CDT   Updated On: May 18 2012 04:35:29 PM CDT
San Antonio skyline
SAN ANTONIO -

Now that the proposed children’s hospital is back on the table, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said a study of the issue has recommended the 215-bed, state-of-the-art facility needs to be built on at least 30 acres of land at the South Texas Medical Center.

He said 40 to 50 acres would be preferable so as to avoid being hemmed in and to allow for future growth.

“It did say they thought it was a better site, but that’s up to whoever build it,” Wolff said before his speech. “That doesn’t mean it has be built there.”

Christus-Santa Rosa already has announced it is converting and expanding its downtown location for that purpose, while Baptist and Methodist Healthcare Systems are preparing their own proposals. One of the nation’s finest, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, also is working on its presentation.

“Obviously, you want to build it where it has the best chance,” Wolff said.

He said the study by the consulting group Blue Cottage pointed out San Antonio’s largest pediatric market is the northeast and northwest of downtown, plus the fact northwest Bexar County along the Interstate 10 corridor has the largest overall population.

Wolff said besides the existing availability of mass transit, proximity to the UT Health Science Center is a major plus given that a Tier One children’s hospital would have strong teaching and research components.

However, Wolff said the last round of state cutbacks that led to 300 UTHSC jobs being eliminated through attrition.

Wolff said he is concerned what impact less funding may have on plans for a children’s hospital.     

“It’s certainly not going to help it,” Wolff said.

Wolff said the Texas Legislature has slashed its funding by 17.2 percent.         

According to a UTHSC spokeswoman, state funds represent nearly a quarter of its overall funding.

Wolff called on the community and the local state lawmakers to help restore what has been cut from the medical school, “the lynch pin of our whole health care center.”

He said no local or state funds would be involved in building what could be a $300-400 million dollar children’s hospital, “but we are saying you need to fund our medical school and health science center properly and they’re not doing that.”