University Health breaks ground for South Side hospital

The first bit of dirt has been turned and construction is officially underway for a full-service, state-of-the-art hospital that will serve the rapidly growing South Side community in Bexar County.

George Hernández, Jr., president & CEO for University Health, compared the official beginning of construction to the planting of a seed that will grow with the support of area leaders and residents.

“My ask of you today, is that you commit to watering the seeds we plant. That you commit to further develop the foundations we lay,” said Hernández, who championed the need for this hospital and is retiring later this year.

“In the end, we will all leave a real legacy for this community, for San Antonio, for Bexar County and for Texas that will not only heal the sick and injured, or train the next generation of health care workers, but also improve the good health of the community,” he said.

State-of-the-art services

When it opens in 2027, University Health Palo Alto Hospital, located on a 68-acre campus next to Texas A&M – San Antonio, will be a state-of-the-art, five-story acute care hospital with a connected medical office building. The initial 166 inpatient beds can be expanded to 286 beds as the population of the South Side continues to grow. It will have a 24/7 Emergency Department, labor and delivery unit, NICU, inpatient units, operating rooms, radiology and lab services.

The hospital groundbreaking follows the beginning of construction in December for Vida, a separate multi-specialty health care center and headquarters for the University Health Institute for Public Health. That clinical building, located on the same Palo Alto campus, is scheduled to open in 2026. University Health’s expansion, aimed at providing inpatient services closer to families’ homes, includes the groundbreaking for another community hospital in February. University Health Retama will be located at the corner of Lookout Road and Retama Parkway along the I-35 corridor in Selma.

Texas A&M partnership brings cutting-edge research and training

Patients visiting the Palo Alto hospital and campus will benefit from a partnership signed last year with the Texas A&M System Board of Regents. The university system is building a $45 million College of Education and Public Health that will accelerate the training of health care professionals, expand medical research and provide needed care to southern Bexar County residents.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this groundbreaking with our friends and collaborators at University Health,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. ”Texas A&M – San Antonio was created to serve the people of Texas, and this is exactly what this hospital and our partnership with them will do.”

Community leaders see Palo Alto as an anchor for health care development

At this groundbreaking, Southwest ISD’s mariachi group and drumline provided the soundtrack for a celebration Bexar County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rebeca-Clay Flores called historic.

“I suspect in the years ahead, people will look back and remember this was the first strategic step in developing a true South Side medical center,” Clay-Flores said. “This is not a Band-Aid, or a piecemeal approach to addressing the serious health disparities in this sector of our community. This is about planting roots, strategically, and watching them thrive and grow.”

Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai provided the closing remarks, congratulating University Health for recognizing the area’s rapid growth and executing plans to meet needs that come with a surge in population.

“University Health saw this coming even before the pandemic, with increased Emergency Room visits and hospitalizations that are continuing to soar,” Sakai said.

“Through strategic planning, good financial management and a commitment to serving this growing community, they made plans to grow at a historic pace and are now executing on those plans as quickly as they can.”

Health care, community and academic leaders turning the first shovels of dirt
Health care, community and academic leaders turning the first shovels of dirt.
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