History of El Paso Children's
“There is a group of people who kept this issue alive all these years. We’ve been trying to get a children’s hospital in El Paso for over 15 years. It was an unmet need in 1992. It’s still an unmet need today.”
--Mayor John Cook
Over the last twenty years, four studies have been conducted regarding the feasibility of a children’s hospital in El Paso:
1993 Convinced of an unmet need in the community, a group of children’s hospital advocates led by pediatrician Dr. Carlos Gutierrez approached the (then) not-for-profit Providence Hospital in 1993 and encouraged them to consider building a children’s hospital. Providence’s study looked fruitful and enthusiastic fundraising efforts began, but in 1994 Providence began talks with Tenet and sold to Tenet in 1995, becoming a for-profit hospital.
1995 Two years after Providence abandoned their plans for an independent children’s hospital, the same group approached Columbia/HCA. Columbia conducted a study and liked what they saw. They bought the adjacent property, tore down an apartment building, and had a groundbreaking, but about 17 days later they faced a cataclysmic financial disaster nationwide. Their plans for a children’s hospital were also derailed.
2003 In the eight-year gap between 1995 and 2003, a group of prominent El Pasoans began laying the groundwork for a four-year medical school for El Paso. In the interest of avoiding conflicting efforts, the idea of a children’s hospital was put on the backburner in order to focus on the four-year medical school. However, in 2003, when funding for the medical school hit a major stall in the legislature, the same group of children's hospital advocates (now called EPICH, El Paso International Children’s Hospital Foundation) approached Thomason and conducted a study.
2004 Assumptions of the 2003 study were reviewed by Deloitte in 2004. It became clear that the time was not right to be considering a children’s hospital. Thomason was facing serious losses on an annual basis.
2005 The Board of El Paso County Hospital District had a vision of a first-rate organization, stronger financial stability and better health care. CEO James N. Valenti assumed the helm of El Paso County Hospital District and Thomason Hospital. Within months, evidence of a massive turn-around began.
2007 By 2007, Thomason had a brand new financial picture, largely as a result of Jim Valenti's vision and a very focused District Board. In just three short years, with no major cuts, no drastic measures, just a lot of checks and balances and a good business practices in place, Thomason had moved from experiencing losses exceeding $15 million dollars annually to enjoying earnings exceeding $26 million and had posted 28 straight months in the black. Still, El Paso remained the largest metropolitan area in the United States without a licensed children’s hospital. With renewed financial vitality, the District Board redirected their attention to consideration of a children’s hospital. But each time a study was done, it seemed to just fragment the market more. By 2007, without a children's hospital serving as their home base, pediatric subspecialists were spending each day driving to and from their offices and four different hospitals.
After much hard work to regain financial stability, CEO Jim Valenti, District Board Chairman Ron Acton and Finance Chair Steve DeGroat approached the 2007 Children’s Hospital study with great candor. Their question was this: “What does it take to make the Children’s Hospital financially viable so that it will not be an ongoing burden to the community?”
All the studies validated that:
there was a need for a children’s hospital.
a children’s hospital in El Paso could be financially viable if associated with an acute care general hospital.
there would be some consolidation of the pediatric market over a period of time with a children’s hospital in the mix.
a children's hospital was essential to increase the supply of pediatric manpower in the community.
Dramatically Underserved Pediatric Community
Pediatricians take care of coughs and colds; pediatric subspecialists stay in school for a few more years of training to develop special knowledge and expertise in areas such as pulmonology, cardiology, urology, and oncology. If you've ever had a seriously sick baby, you were probably sent to see a pediatric subspecialist.
In El Paso, approximately half the pediatric specialties were represented and half were not. Except for in a few areas, our city had only one practicing physician in each specialty. That meant that every pediatrician was on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Eventually many of them became burned out and moved to communities where they would be better supported. It became clear that our children weren't getting the care they deserved.
A Community Decision
After months of intense community debate, the children's hospital issue was put on the ballot. The voters of El Paso would go to the polls to determine the fate of pediatrics in El Paso.
On November 6th, 2007 the voters of El Paso said "Yes!" to a children's hospital.
- 12/02/13 Maya Angelou To Be Featured Speaker At El Paso Children's 2014 Milagro Gala
- 11/27/13 COSTCO Donated $14,266.00 to Children's Miracle Network
- 11/25/13 University Medical Center Foundation Awarded $40,000 Grant From Bank of America Foundation
- 10/23/13 "The Perfect Turnover” Raises Over $200,000 To Benefit El Paso Children's Hospital
- 10/08/13 UMC Foundation Receives $5000 from Shamaley Ford