Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect proper facility name.

The Quentin Mease Health Center, located nearly 3 miles east of the Texas Medical Center, will be on the receiving end of nearly $9 million in federally funded dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act to open an outpatient gastroenterology lab after Harris County Commissioners approved the agreement at a Dec. 19 meeting.

"As one that has amongst the highest rates of cancer in the county in my precinct, addressing this issue is something that Dr. [Esmaeil] Porsa and I talk about quite a bit in terms of just how we can get ahead of that curve in dealing with cancer in our underserved areas," Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said.

At any given time, more than 3,000 patients end up waiting for a colonoscopy due to maximum capacity constraints. Due to delays in diagnosis, patients can end up with poor health outcomes instead of being treated earlier for issues such as cancer, according to county agenda documents.

The impact

Harris County Public Health's 2023 Health Disparities Report states that health outcomes in the county are affected by various factors. Certain racial and ethnic minority groups experience higher rates of poor health and sickness for different health conditions, according to the report.
  • Colon cancer disproportionately affects the Black community by approximately 20% more likely to get colon cancer and about 40% more likely to die from it than most other groups.
  • Cultural barriers make it less likely for the Black community to get screened for colon cancer.
The nearly $9 million in ARPA funding will create additional capacity for colonoscopy procedures and support the purchase of equipment, software licenses, among other necessities, according to Leah Barton, managing director at the Harris County Office of County Administration.

"Funding will support physicians, nurses, technicians and other staffing," Barton said in an email.

The Quentin Mease gastroenterology lab was developed based on patient and physician feedback regarding Harris Health's colonoscopy backlog. The health center is part of the Harris Health network.
  • The new location seeks to add more appointment availabilities for patients at a central location in Harris County.
  • The lab is located on a local bus route to minimize transportation burdens for patients without personal transportation.