ARANSAS PASS, Texas — On the voting ballot in San Patricio County in 2021 is a proposal for a county hospital district.
The CARE Regional Medical Center in Aransas Pass was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which was the area's only hospital.
If people have to go to the ICU in San Patricio county, they are forced to go across the bridge or places such as Calallen and Beeville, but two men in Portland are trying to change that.
“Our life expectancy in San Patricio county is three years less than the state average,” said Dr. James Mobley, the county's health director. "We have about seven to 10 people die of excess accidents in this county again compared to the state average.”
Mobley has practiced medicine in Portland for more than 40 years.
“We had two patients in one of our ERs here in Portland that were both bleeding,” Mobley said. “There was only one ICU bed available. One of those persons died. I could have saved that life if we had a hospital here.”
Mobley and former city councilman Ron Jorgensen are trying to bring a hospital district to San Patricio county, and they've put in $50,000 of their own money.
“He had the medical knowledge,” Jorgensen said. "I spent 23 years on Portland’s city council, so I understood the process.”
Portland Mayor Pro-tempore Bill Wilson said a private hospital wouldn’t cost taxpayers that much more, but a hospital district would.
“We’re not against a hospital,” Wilson said. “We’re against the notion that — the flawed assumption that — the taxpayers are going to have to pick up the tab.”
The district would be a Level IV trauma center.
Some opponents argue that there’s already an emergency room in Portland.
“Premier can’t do blood banking," Mobley said. "Premier has no ICU’s, Premier can’t hold patients overnight. Premier does not have an OR. It’s not a hospital.”
Wilson said there was not enough information for voters to make an informed decision.
“What kind of services is this hospital going to offer?” Wilson said. “How are you going to staff it? How are you going to fund it? How much is it going to cost to operate.”
Early voting began Monday. Election day is Nov. 2.
If the proposal passes, the next step would be for the county commissioners to appoint a board for the hospital district.
If it doesn’t, Jorgensen and Mobley said they will go back to the drawing board.