Harris County Commissioners on Tuesday briefly discussed a $2.5 billion bond proposal from the Harris Health System to fund the rebuilding and upgrading of several hospital district facilities, including the replacement of Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital.
Commissioners did not take any action on the proposal Tuesday afternoon, but will vote on it at a special meeting Aug. 17. The bond would require approval of Harris County voters in the November election.
The Harris Health Board of Trustees unanimously voted to put forth the bond proposal to Commissioners Court in April, with health system leaders underscoring the importance of receiving the money.
“The need is urgent,” Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, president and CEO of Harris Health System, said Wednesday. “The need is pervasive.”
“Without immediate public investment, our hospitals and emergency rooms will continue to exceed capacity on a daily basis,” Dr. Arthur Bracey, Harris Health System Board of Trustees chairperson, said in a news release. “We need to act now to address the immediate needs but also prepare for the inevitable growth in demand as Harris County grows.”
Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey raised questions about the proposal during Tuesday’s meeting.
More than 80 percent of the proposed bond money, exceeding $2 billion, would be used to replace and renovate LBJ Hospital, Ramsey said.
He questioned if LBJ was located within the floodplain, and whether it made sense to build a new hospital in the same location, as proposed, on floodplain land.
Ramsey also questioned whether it would make more sense to first fund the renovation and addition of community clinics across the county to alleviate pressure on the hospitals and then later focus on hospital renovations.
Ramsey said he has previously raised these questions during conversations with Harris Health officials. He discussed them again Tuesday, he said, to make the court aware.
Porsa said the phased construction and renovation plans begin with LBJ because it faces the greatest need. The hospital was almost shut down two years ago because of ongoing infrastructure issues, Porsa said.
See here for the background. The bond would allow for a third Level I trauma center in Harris County, which is definitely needed. We’re going to have a pretty busy ballot this November, with multiple referenda in addition to the city races. I’ll be keeping an eye on them all as we go.