As mentioned on March 7th, 2019, I am sure many of you don’t know that my stepmother of 37 years was born with a congenital heart defect. Throughout the years of her vacationing on South Padre Island, she has had to seek care from a doctor or even a few times a hospital. In 2017, it ended up with a 5-day hospital stay in Brownsville. I have also had my father and many friends who have needed urgent care and have had to make the drive to either Brownsville or Harlingen. South Padre Island needs a sustainable healthcare option in the future, possibly one that is has a Port Isabel component for feasibility.

Currently, the EDC is helping with a feasibility study. This study will be analyzing options and cost benefits for a medical facility on our Island. The feasibility study will include:

* The 1st option is a micro hospital (5-7 beds). Ownership would be discussed. Either a private entity, possibly funded by “opportunity fund” monies, the city, or a joint venture public/private entity. This would require South Padre to be a substantial player in the facility.

* The 2nd option would be a hospital system, such as Prime Healthcare, Harlingen Medical Center, developing a satellite emergency center with Observation beds, connected with licensure through the hospital mothership. These are called HOPD emergency facilities. Other hospital systems in South Texas have exercised this option widely, most notably South Texas Health Systems, and Tenet. This option would require the least city expenditure.

* The 3rd option under consideration is the feasibility of South Padre Island partnering with a Private Independent Freestanding Emergency Center (FEC) operation. This option would work best if the FEC could participate with Medicare/Medicaid. There is a bill under consideration at the federal level that would enable this. However, currently independent FECs do not participate with Medicare, but there is an effort at hand to obtain a grant under the CMS innovation projects to target SPI to pilot this project as proof of concept. We would make national headlines with this model, and probably the most progressive.

I am in much favor of a local 24-hour healthcare facility and probably be more inclined to pursue the last two options, but I will defer my final opinion until the feasibility is complete. I have heard from some of the people involved that we could have this study complete in 2-3 months, as the EDC has compiled much of the patient data.

Patrick J. McNulty

#VoteforPatrick #SPIResidents4Patrick