A cornerstone of research-based medicine
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio broke ground and unveiled the cornerstone for the UT Health San Antonio Multispecialty and Research Hospital, a destination center for research and treatment of cancer and other complex diseases that disproportionately impact the people of South Texas.
In a nod to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was held virtually on March 29.
William L. Henrich, MD, MACP, president of UT Health San Antonio, welcomed academic, civic and community leaders from The University of Texas System, the city of San Antonio and Bexar County. “This hospital represents an exciting day for health care in our region and carries our aspirations for UT Health San Antonio to lead a bright future propelled by science, education and clinical excellence,” Dr. Henrich said. Also joining the event were leaders from University Health, UT Health’s primary academic training site for more than 50 years.
The patient-centered hospital, to be built with state and private investments estimated at $430 million, will deliver the most advanced precision-based care and latest targeted therapies possible. “We are forging a future in which no patient will ever have to leave San Antonio to receive world-innovative treatments,” Dr. Henrich said. “This project will significantly and forever change how we serve the sickest and most vulnerable populations in our area.”
The eight-story, 144-bed hospital will offer specialty care in cancer, orthopedics, urology, and thoracic and bariatric surgery. Owned by The University of Texas, this new facility will be a major site for early phase clinical trials, including novel immunologic and stem cell therapies for cancer.
Chancellor James B. Milliken; John M. Zerwas, MD, executive vice chancellor for health affairs; and James C. “Rad” Weaver, vice chairman of the Board of Regents, represented The University of Texas System. In November 2019, the Board of Regents approved $80 million in Permanent University Fund Bond Proceeds for the project. The hospital is included in the UT System’s Capital Improvement Program.
“As a forward-thinking academic medical center, UT Health San Antonio will be the first in the region to leverage its vital academic, research and patient care missions to meet the growing demand for inpatient care of the most complex diseases impacting this diverse community,” Chancellor Milliken said.
“This new hospital will offer access to multispecialty services not available today,” Dr. Zerwas said. “Robust clinical trials will provide novel treatments and care options to families in their greatest hour of need. Predicting, preventing, treating and curing disease precisely will be the focus of the world-class physicians and other care providers who will serve here.”
“As a lifelong San Antonian, I firmly believe the people of our city deserve the very best health care that can be offered and that we should not have to seek this care outside of our city,” Regent Weaver said. “I applaud UT Health San Antonio’s leaders for their visionary actions to build this best-in-class hospital in our own city.”
Additional resident physicians
David Zachry, chairman of the UT Health San Antonio Development Board, described the hospital’s impact on health care education.
“This new hospital will allow San Antonio to attract more than 50 new medical residents, many of whom will choose to stay in our community to raise their families and provide needed medical specialty care to our patients,” said Mr. Zachry, president and CEO of Zachry Construction Corp. “San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the United States, and this is an important and needed investment for everyone who lives and works in our wonderful city.”
Robert A. Hromas, MD, FACP, dean of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at UT Health San Antonio, praised the innovation in medical education, clinical care and research that the new hospital will foster.
“This new environment is being carefully designed to promote interprofessional collaboration as we provide exceptional care to patients and their families,” Dr. Hromas said. “This hospital is a crucial addition to our academic mission of producing new physicians and other health care providers. The hospital will help accelerate discoveries, validated in clinical trials, that bring improvements to clinical practice, resulting in the comprehensive advanced care we provide patients.”
Cancer care and research
The hospital will be connected by a pedestrian sky bridge to the Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center. The National Cancer Institute this year renewed its designation of the Mays Cancer Center as one of the elite cancer centers in the nation and one of only four NCI-designated Cancer Centers in Texas.
The emphasis on cancer care and research, symbolized by the sky bridge, will be strong. “NCI-designated Cancer Centers with superior access to state-of-the-art hospital care are the nation’s leaders in inpatient Phase I clinical trials of cellular-based therapies and surgical technologies,” said Ruben Mesa, MD, FACP, executive director of the Mays Cancer Center. “In addition, the seamless relationship between our outpatient clinics and inpatient hospital care will greatly benefit our patients.”
The hospital will also expand UT Health San Antonio’s partnership with University Health. UT Health San Antonio is working with University Health to form a top-tier integrated health delivery system to improve care throughout Bexar County. The new hospital will be complementary to existing programs at University Hospital, avoiding duplication of services.
Well-integrated health network
“We are maturing our collaborative relationship with University Health into a well-integrated and aligned health network that can respond to San Antonio’s changing health care environment by providing high-quality, cost-efficient health care,” Dr. Hromas said. “We will continue to address inpatient demand, focus on specialized services needed by our diverse population, and design the future of health care for San Antonio and far beyond.”
“Our goal is to build upon our long and productive history of collaboration,” said George B. Hernández Jr., president and CEO of University Health. “Working together, we can create a healthier community, save and change lives, and lay a strong foundation for the next generation.”
Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff praised the unparalleled effort of University Health and UT Health San Antonio in managing the increasing health care needs of the region — collaboration that is setting the partners’ collective work apart from other cities.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the city will benefit by the hospital adding 800 high-quality jobs to the region. Dr. Henrich expressed gratitude to the San Antonio Medical Foundation, which stewards the Medical Center, for the gift of the site, 12.2 acres of land bordered by Ewing Halsell Drive, Wurzbach Road and Floyd Curl Drive.
The hospital raises the curtain on a new era of precision, personalized medicine based on innovative research conducted by San Antonians for San Antonians.
UT Health San Antonio will bring the expertise of 900 faculty specialists and subspecialists to serve patients and their families at this new facility. Patient care will be coordinated within a single, secure electronic medical record available anywhere 24/7.
“This investment is about far more than a new brick-and-mortar facility,” Dr. Henrich said. “This project will improve the way we serve our patients. We are proud to make this investment in our patients, our people and our community.”
The hospital design is 448,819 gross square feet and includes a 673-car parking garage and 200- car surface parking lot. EYP has been contracted to perform the architectural and engineering services, and the construction manager-at-risk is Vaughn Construction.
Construction is beginning this spring and is expected to be completed in 2024.