Local News

Jul 14, 2014 10:38 PM by Bart Bedsole - bbedsole@kristv.com

Westside Residents Voice Concerns About Spohn Plan

CORPUS CHRISTI - Even before Monday's presentation at the Garcia Arts Center on the westside, there was suspicion that many of that area's longtime residents would have serious concerns about demolishing Spohn Memorial.

By the time it was over, those suspicions were clearly confirmed.

It was the latest of Christus Spohn's community meetings around the area to present the details about Spohn's $325 million hospital transformation plan.

The proposal involves demolish the aging Memorial, moving its trauma center and other services to Spohn Shoreline, and building an HEB-size health care center near the current Memorial site.

Trying to soften the impact of the demolition, Spohn CEO Pam Robertson repeated several times throughout the presentation that health care is not about a building.

She also called on Cecilia Garcia Akers, daughter of Dr. Hector P. Garcia, to speak in support of the plan.

Garcia Akers said although her father would probably have mixed feelings about losing Memorial, she felt it was important to move health care forward in the Corpus Christi community.

But the audience still had concerns about round-the-clock access to the new health center, proper care for the county's indigent population, and the emotional impact of losing Memorial.

"Memorial belongs to us, and now they're going to tear it down," said westside attorney Amador Garcia, "and when they tear it down, they take part of our heart and soul away."

Garcia's comments brought lots of nodding heads in agreement from the audience.

Garcia believes demolishing Memorial further isolates his neighborhood and short changes the westside once again.

"Absolutely, like we do every time. We get short changed every time," he said.

Spohn officials disagree.

Robertson pointed out that 40 percent of all patients who showed up to the emergency room at Spohn Memorial last year didn't actually an ER, but simply an outpatient treatment center like the one Spohn is proposing to build.

Spohn spokesperson Katy Kiser also pointed out that the proposed Dr. Hector P. Garcia Health Center will be way more than a neighborhood clinic.

"This is an incredible state-of-the-art ultra modern building that is coming, and it will sit in the heart of the westside community," she said.

Although the Nueces County Hospital District doesn't need the approval of any other governing body to approve the agreement with Spohn, it is expected to present the plan to county commissioners in September, and vote shortly after that.

Jonny Hipp, CEO of the Hospital District, explained to the crowd that rebuilding Memorial would cost about $400 in bond money.

He believes that's a cost that taxpayers cannot afford.

If the agreement with Spohn is approved, Christus Health would pay $275 million of the total $325 million needed for the transformation.

The last $50 million would come from private donations in the community.

A final presentation is expected to take place on the Northside sometime in the next few weeks.

» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.

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