An agreement aimed at making sure the children of Bexar County continue to have access to the highest level of comprehensive pediatric services was approved Tuesday night by the Bexar County Hospital District Board of Managers.
The agreement will permanently add new ambulatory primary care and specialty services for children at the Robert B. Green Campus downtown. Those services, aimed at keeping children healthy and out of the hospital, will be staffed by UT Medicine doctors working in partnership with pediatricians from Community Medicine Associates, the nonprofit physician practice of University Health System. UT Medicine is the physician practice organization of the UT Health Science Center.
The agreement also includes a transition plan for UT Medicine pediatric specialists to provide both inpatient and outpatient care at University Hospital until a new comprehensive academic children’s hospital is built in San Antonio. UT Medicine will begin moving into University Health System facilities on or about July 1. The transition plan is expected to continue through early 2017 or longer.
The UT Health Science Center announced its plan last year to affiliate with Vanguard Health Systems and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in building a freestanding, academic children’s hospital.
University Health System is the primary teaching partner of the UT Health Science Center.
“I deem it quite frankly a landmark,” said James Adams, chairman of the Bexar County Hospital District Board of Managers, which oversees the Health System. “University Health System is owned by the people of Bexar County, and we have a special responsibility to make sure its residents — and especially its children — have access to the best medical care.”
“This transition plan is an important piece of stability for the faculty who are driving this engine, and I’m proud of the work that’s been done to get us to this point,” said Dr. William Henrich, president of the UT Health Science Center. “I look forward to our partnership being fortified in many positive ways.”
Under the terms of the agreement, University Health System will invest nearly $11 million to finish out shell space on the sixth floor of the newly built Clinical Pavilion at the Robert B. Green Campus for pediatric care. University Health System will also adapt space on the fifth and 11th floors of University Hospital to create more pediatric rooms and other child-friendly clinical spaces. In 2014, children’s services will occupy the seventh floor of the new tower currently under construction on the University Hospital campus.
Dr. John Calhoon, chairman of cardiothoracic surgery at UT Health Science Center and a renowned pediatric heart surgeon, praised the agreement. "It is exciting to see this major step in the evolution and development of a regional healthcare delivery system anchored by a freestanding academic children's hospital, led by the UHS system in collaboration with UT Health Science Center and its partners,” Calhoon said.
“The longstanding partnership between UT Health Science Center and University Health System has been beneficial to both institutions and the community as a whole,” said George B. Hernández Jr., president/CEO of University Health System. “The community will benefit from having an orderly and seamless transition of care for pediatric patients, and a new range of children’s services downtown.”
University Health System currently provides both inpatient and outpatient pediatric care at University Hospital and throughout a network of outpatient primary care and specialty clinics throughout Bexar County. University Hospital also operates the only pediatric trauma center in South Texas verified by the American College of Surgeons, and the region’s only pediatric burn program.