San Patricio County Asks Residents for Hospital District in Nov. 2 Election
Feature Illustration: A concept rendering of the proposed San Patricio County Hospital. County residents will decide Nov. 2 if there will be a county hospital district.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Sinton (San Patricio County) — The San Patricio County Commissioners Court is hoping residents will support the creation of a county hospital district in the November 2 election.
In 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused severe damage to Care Regional Medical Center in Aransas Pass, the county’s only full service hospital. Efforts to reopen the hospital were unsuccessful and it officially closed permanently in May 2019.
The county has a four limited service hospitals. There is the Aransas Pass Osteopathic Hospital, the Rockport Hospital, Taft Hospital, and Sinton Hospital. Many urgent care situations in the county require residents to travel to Corpus Christi in Nueces County.
San Patricio County Health Authority Dr. James Mobley and former Portland council member Ron Jorgensen have led the effort to find a replacement for Care Regional. On Aug. 16, following their presentation on the need for a hospital district, Commissioners Court voted to call a special election.
The creation of the San Patricio County Hospital District, if approved, would allow such a district to impose a property tax of up to 30 cents per $100 of property valuation. However, the organizers have estimated the actual tax would be about 10 cents per $100.
In addition, the proposition would authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds, not to exceed $60 million.
County hospital districts are common in counties with large populations, much less so in rural counties. San Patricio has been experiencing growth over the past decade and advocates for the hospital district claim it can support a hospital district.
Dr. Nancy Dickey, a former president of the Texas A&M Rural and Community Health Institute, conducted a needs assessment at Mobley’s request. She determined San Patricio needed a 250-bed facility.
The proposal before voters would be for a much smaller hospital, though. In a presentation to Portland City Council, Mobley and Jorgensen were describing a Level IV trauma center in a 48,000 square-foot facility that would have 25 beds. Of those, six to eight would be intensive care units; it would have four surgical suites, and one emergency room.
There has been no decision made on where the hospital would be located. San Patricio is a narrow, 50-mile wide rectangular county. Sinton, the county seat, is centrally located, but much of the county’s population is along the coast.
If the proposition is approved, county commissioners will appoint members to a temporary board of directors before the end of November. That board will solicit requests for qualifications to select a civil engineer and architect.
The project schedule tentatively calls for the design phase to start by March 2022. Construction would begin in the summer of 2022 and reach completion by December 2023.
An election would be held in May 2022 to choose permanent board members.
The campaign has received data on the project scope from AG|CM Inc., a Corpus Christi-based estimating and construction management firm, and legal counsel from Radcliffe Bobbitt Adams Polley, a Houston-based public law firm with expertise in special districts.