A planned 144-bed teaching hospital on the UT Health San Antonio campus slated to open in the spring of 2024 will boost enrollment for many health programs so crucial for the region and state.
The medical school alone could see an increase of 22 students in each enrollment class. The number of medical residents could grow by 100 to 130 slots by 2027. Currently, 1,000 residency slots are offered through UT Health San Antonio.
This is great news for medical and other students training for health professions who want to complete their education in Texas. It will help address the shortage of providers in Bexar County and across the state. Historically, many doctors remain in the communities where they complete their medical training.
The San Antonio hospital would become the fourth operated by the University of Texas System. The others are in Dallas, Galveston and Tyler.
Most of the UT System health science centers have partnerships with independently managed hospitals in their communities.
Most new hospital projects arrive with much fanfare. This project has been quietly moving along over the past year with little public awareness or discussion.
The University of Texas System regents last month placed the nearly $400 million project on its capital improvement program and are expected to appropriate construction funds at their November meeting.
The hospital will be located on 12 acres in the South Texas Medical Center provided by the San Antonio Medical Foundation. The eight-story hospital will be adjacent to the Mays Cancer Center, formerly known as the Cancer Therapy and Research Center. The jointly run UT Health San Antonio-MD Anderson program is a National Cancer Institute-designated research center. The hospital and the cancer center will be connected by a skybridge.
A 530-space parking garage is also included in the project.
Background information provided to the regents describes a high-acuity hospital offering treatment programs in cancer, neurosciences, orthopedics, urology, thoracic surgery and bariatrics.
A distinct, competitive advantage of the hospital will be the unique leading-edge therapies and early-phase clinical trials in the many disciplines in which the university has expertise, including immunologic and stem cell therapies in oncology and diabetes, the backgrounder states.
The construction of a second teaching hospital in San Antonio raises concerns about the multibillion-dollar investment taxpayers have made in the Bexar County Hospital District, which includes University Hospital and some two dozen University Health System clinics.
University Hospital has long been the primary teaching hospital for UT Health San Antonio, and much of its recent expansion including the new 400-bed Womens and Childrens Hospital now under construction alongside University Hospital has been in large part to accommodate the patients seen by UT Health San Antonio doctors.
Will the two be duplicating services and competing for patients?
UT Health San Antonio President William L. Henrich and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said the two hospitals will work in partnership. The hospital district and UT officials are negotiating a memorandum of understanding to that effect, Wolff said.
Henrich said the new hospital will not replicate any services and will complement what is currently offered. He said the new facility will allow for the expansion of the health science centers three primary missions clinical care, biomedical research and education.
Our clinical practices have been growing 8 to 10 percent a year, Henrich said. We have about $300 million in research on campus, and we need more access to clinical trials. Sophisticated clinical trials in cancer, rheumatology, gastroenterology and this hospital will afford us the opportunity to carry out those trials, and that will be a unique feature of this hospital.
In addition, the new hospital is expected to create 750 to 850 new jobs.
This is an important project for San Antonio and Texas. It will expand higher education opportunities, help address the doctor shortage in the state and provide a lift to the local economy by creating skilled jobs.
We look forward to a thriving partnership between UT Health and the University Health System.
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Editorial: UT Healths new teaching hospital will boost region – San Antonio Express-News