University Health to purchase 68 acres on South Side for future hospital
Property is adjacent to Texas A&M and part of new master-planned community
With a focus on the future, and a nod to its 104-year legacy of service, University Health will invest $10.4 million to acquire a 68-acre tract of land at the intersection of S. Zarzamora and Jaguar Parkway, adjacent to Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Members of the Bexar County Hospital District Board of Managers unanimously approved the purchase Tuesday evening, following discussion of current health care needs and future projections.
This acquisition is an important part of University Health’s growth strategy in response to the increase in Bexar County population that is expected to rise at an even faster pace over the next 10 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and Texas Demographic Center. University Health is acquiring property in a timely manner to assure the potential of future growth. No timelines have been set with regard to design and construction services of facilities.
Over the past two decades, University Health has grown its ambulatory network, which now includes more than 30 primary, specialty and urgent care centers across the community. “As intended, these locations have enabled us to dramatically expand access to high quality, compassionate care, and serve thousands more patients closer to their homes. However, when our patients need hospital care, they are all referred to our one hospital,” explained University Health president and CEO George B. Hernández Jr. “This increased demand often causes University Hospital to be at capacity.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has shined an even brighter light on the need for this expansion, as every surge in COVID-19 patients has significantly strained the hospital’s ability to serve non-COVID-19 patients in need of the advanced care available only at academic medical centers like University Hospital.
Strategically placed suburban acute care hospitals will enable many of these patients to receive routine types of hospital services, such as low-risk births and hip replacements, without having to travel to the medical center. As part of a “hub and spoke” strategy, these hospitals will help ensure University Hospital is always available to accept patients needing the highest levels of care, such as level I trauma and burn services, comprehensive stroke care and organ transplantation.
Making it as convenient as possible for South Side residents to access high quality health care is an important priority for Bexar County Commissioner for Precinct 1, Rebeca Clay-Flores. “University Health and I have been able to develop great partnerships with A&M and Thad Rutherford (the developer). We’ve worked to ensure that we are aligning our vision and mission for the South Side in order to empower healthy communities where we live, work, pray, play, serve, and have access to all facets that our constituents need. The demand for a hospital in this area is long overdue, and we’ll continue to bring much needed resources to Precinct 1,” said Commissioner Clay-Flores.
“As the only locally owned health system in Bexar County, we have a unique mission and responsibility to serve everyone. We are proud of all we have accomplished in recent years to expand our ambulatory care network and integrate the most advanced electronic health records system across all of our locations,” said Bexar County Hospital District Board of Managers Chair James Adams. “We have laid a strong foundation for the future and now, thanks to the support of this community and our Bexar County Commissioners Court, the time is right to take the next steps to ensure we are well prepared to serve families across all parts of our community in the years ahead.”
“I think this is significant and it’s long overdue,” board member Jimmy Hasslocher said as he made the motion to authorize staff to move forward with securing the land.
Texas A&M -San Antonio officials see this investment as a critical step in improving health care access and quality of life for area residents, while bringing expanded educational opportunities and high-paying health career opportunities for its students. “I am delighted by the news that University Health has acquired land for its next hospital site adjacent to Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Our shared entry at Zarzamora will serve as a prominent gateway for the new development and symbolic of exciting possibilities for workforce development, health-science education, and interdisciplinary research collaborations between University Health and A&M-San Antonio—all of which are in alignment with A&M-San Antonio’s ambitious strategic plan, Transforming Tomorrow Together,” said Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, president of Texas A&M University-San Antonio. “With this new site, the South Side and surrounding communities will have easier access to critical, world-class healthcare. We know that the continued development of the South Side is building up the San Antonio of the future. This hospital is vital for a healthy future and continued economic development, as are A&M-San Antonio and the neighboring ISDs.”
The parcel of land is part of the 600-acre VIDA community slated to have 4,000 residential units at buildout, including single-family homes, duplexes, townhomes, apartments and student housing. The homes will be available in early 2022. The VIDA master-planned community will also feature the expansive Madla Greenway and trail system and a vibrant retail center across from Texas A&M-San Antonio. “We’re thrilled to welcome University Health to VIDA and to the South Side community,” said Thad Rutherford, president & CEO of SouthStar Communities and owner and developer of VIDA. “Their presence affirms VIDA’s community pillars of wellbeing, artful living, innovation and connectivity. Their mission of improving good health through compassionate patient care, innovation and education is an ideal fit for the area.”