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Sunday, March 28th 2010

Let A Children Hospital Rise

I call home one of the largest cities in the country without a freestanding, full service children’s hospital. In the state of Texas my home is the only ‘major’ metropolitan area without such an institution.

The benefits of freestanding children’s hospitals and the problems pediatric care in my hometown faces should seem cognizant to even the layperson. While children’s hospitals certainly have higher charges they provide value for such, providing better care from everything in trauma to acute asthma exacerbation. The lack of a freestanding children’s hospital means tertiary pediatric care is fragmented. Pediatric services at hospitals around the city see fewer of each case of pediatric illness. Volume, as has long been shown, means quality. Concentrating tertiary care also promises to promote recruitment of everything from pediatric subspecialists to pediatric nurses.

The Beautiful Dell Children’s Hospital An Hour North Of San Antonio

I’ve always had a place in my heart for pediatrics. It represents unique challenges and at times can be tragic and gut wrenching caring for the young and critically ill. It is also incredibly rewarding. Your patients share no responsibility for their conditions and the promise they hold when you help heal them is virtually limitless. But of course, as easy as it is for pols to talk about children’s issues, they lack a constituency and children’s healthcare doesn’t exactly have the political will as, say, care for those over 65 does.

So I’m happy to see the movement for a new children’s hospital in San Antonio. A public-private venture the hurdles it faces are more than political but the backing of prominent politicians like Nelson Wolff is a very positive turn for pediatrics in this town. Amongst others in town, the former Mayor and long term head of Bexar County seems to have thrown his full weight behind a freestanding children’s hospital. That can only be a good thing.

Supportive media coverage as well is a positive. The local newspaper has it here and here, saying,

Far from standing still, San Antonio is losing ground in pediatric care as other cities expand theirs, Austin moves closer to getting a medical school, and local military realignments reduce pediatric care resources.

In July, Texas Children’s Hospital bought full-page ads in the San Antonio Express-News promoting its services, evidence that this city is seen as a lucrative market for other cities’ children’s hospitals.

As has local television media. Hopefully that forecasts well for the future. San Antonio needs a children’s hospital.