University Health officials said the new health care facility planned to be built near campus will positively impact the Southside by providing medical care and improving the Southside’s economy.
“(It’s) important for the immediate needs of caring for people, but in addition to that, it’s important because it’s going to become an economic generator for the community and grow that community,” George Hernandez, president and CEO of University Health San Antonio, said during a Zoom interview Oct. 5.
The healthcare provider is in the process of investing $10.4 million into 68 acres at the intersection of South Zarzamora Street and Jaguar Parkway, near the university’s west exit.
A news release posted on Sept. 28 said the Bexar County Hospital District Board of Managers favored the purchase “following discussion of current health care needs and future projections.”
Hernandez said it typically takes a few months to complete a transaction like this.
“There’s a process we can ‘due diligence’ where you go through and make sure you got everything you need to be finalized,” Herandez said.
Hernandez said his company has spent a couple of years searching for land in southern Bexar County to build a new facility.
In San Antonio, the healthcare company has one hospital, over 30 clinics and other partnerships with clinics.
“We haven’t decided what (type of building) will be there yet,” Hernandez said. “It’s big enough for anything. It’s big enough for a hospital, it’s big enough for a medical office building, it’s big enough for ancillary facilities, emergency rooms, things like that.”
Hernandez said it typically takes three years to complete construction of a healthcare building.
“The great thing about the property … is there’s no building to knock down and there’s plenty of land for service parking,” Hernandez said.
According to Hernandez, construction of a new healthcare unit will spur other construction.
“The Southside is now foreground for that kind of development,” Hernandez said.
University Health is acquiring the property from the VIDA developer, SouthStar Communities. The company’s new location will be part of the VIDA community.
Gretchen Howell, senior vice president of SouthStar Communities, said the development company is excited to welcome University Health to the VIDA community.
“While it’s a wonderful addition to the VIDA community, healthcare is a regional impact,” Howell said in a Zoom interview Oct. 1. “It’s an important access point for everyone around us. We’re glad we could play a role in welcoming it into the community.”
SouthStar Communities officials see this new medical project on their site as a regional benefit.
“We’re very encouraged to provide that quality of healthcare right in this community,” Howell said.
When evaluating where to locate their new facility, Hernandez said it only made sense to build it as close as possible to Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
“There’s a lot of synergy with what A&M (San Antonio) is offering the community,” Hernandez said. “Some students are going to be going into health professions…We think that that creates a synergy with us.”
Hernandez said the presence of University Health will attract students who would like to become healthcare workers to study on the Southside.
The healthcare company has been in communication with University President Cynthia Teniente-Matson about a possible healthcare addition to the region for approximately a year.
“We’re really excited about her (Matson’s) ASPIRE program, where she has a relationship with other school districts and the community,” Hernandez said. “That creates the pipeline for Texas A&M and it also creates the pipeline for healthcare workers.”
During the SouthStar Communities’ Power Hour presentation on Sept. 29, Matson said this was an exciting time to see expansion on the Southside.
Matson said a new health facility is important for the vision of A&M-San Antonio, especially with the recent launch of the Research and Health Science department.
“We are now entering the next phase of the extensive conversation with A&M Health Science Center and other collaborators about what is our future program,” Matson said.
Hernandez said from what he knows about the new health science department, it looks like it will be the department University Health works the closest with in the future.
Correction: This story was updated at 5:36 p.m. Oct. 14 to change the official name of the healthcare provider to “University Health,” formerly identified as “University Health System.”