Updated: 9:52 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, 2007
Posted: 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007
EL PASO, Texas —
Stories like Heck’s are why many people El Paso County needs a children’s hospital. But many said El Paso already has a place for kids to go: the Children’s Hospital at Providence. They admitted some children must travel to other cities for highly specialized care, but that is not out of the ordinary.
“All of the basic and advanced services including minimally invasive surgery for children is available here,” said Irene Chavez with Providence Hospital.
Chavez said El Paso does not have enough patients.
“These are the units that routinely are closed during the summer months, because pediatric care is seasonal,” said Chavez.
Chavez said a separate children’s hospital will not survive financially.
“Free-standing children’s hospital is not sustainable. A hospital within a hospital is sustainable, but we already have it,” said Chavez.
Dr. Carlos Gutierrez, a Thomason Hospital board member, disagrees. He said all you have to do is look at the studies.
“They all show that that children’s hospital will be profitable by the first year in operation,” said Gutierrez.
He said without the children’s hospital, El Paso will be in trouble.
“If you don’t have healthy kids that turn into healthy adults, forget about everything else. We have to take care of our kids the best way possible,” said Gutierrez.
The debate has now moved from just saying yes or no for a children’s hospital into a full-fledged political campaign, with billboards set up all across the city from both sides. Providence Hospital has also started doing TV ads, and even the mayor of El Paso has gotten involved.
“No issue has galvanized the community of El Paso more than this particular issue, because in reality it’s about our kids,” said Mayor John Cook.
Cook said he has spent much of his political career fighting for a children’s hospital, and he feels a nonprofit county-owned hospital is the answer.
“What Providence is worried about, is they’ve invested a lot of money in children’s services. They answer to their shareholders. For the children’s hospital, they answer to somebody too; it’s just not shareholders, it’s the community.”
As far as how much El Paso County residents will be taxed, for a $100,000 home, you will pay $2.38 a month.