East Side health center to help heal neighbors, neighborhood

Ground broken on UHS Dr. Robert L.M. Hilliard Center

A new health center for the East Side is more than a way to improve residents' health in the area, it's also a way to improve the neighborhood's health.

The Dr. Robert L.M. Hilliard Center, scheduled to open late in 2017, broke ground Thursday on a site on Runnels Avenue, near I-35 and Walters Street.

Named after a pioneering black physician with East Side ties, the University Health System center will focus on primary care and women's and children's health services.

"It is strategically located, easily accessible to the people who live in this neighborhood and also who get here by VIA bus," said George Hernandez Jr., University Health System president and CEO.

The center is also located in a neighborhood that is undergoing a revitalization. Precinct 4 Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert thinks the health center helps to show the East Side's rebirth, but it's not the only thing.

"There's literally over $300 million in new housing that's coming to the East Side," Calvert said. "We've never had this level of investment."

Calvert said that's mainly private money, but the public sector has been leading on physical improvements, like Menger Creek Linear Parkway.

"I can show to a lot of private developers that there is momentum and investment coming back," Calvert said.

The San Antonio Housing Authority gave University Health System the land for the health center. It's not a SAHA project, but fits in with SAHA'S Choice Neighborhood Initiative around the nearby former Wheatley Courts, an area SAHA board chairman Dr. Morris Stribling said has been neglected.

"So this redevelopment looks at all of those aspects of what happens to a neighborhood when it deteriorates, and we try to turn it around completely," Stribling said.

Just like a sick patient, a neighborhood can heal too.

About the Author: