Growth fuels expansion of medical community


Health care providers in Fort Bend County are taking major steps to bolster services and coverage as the county’s population continues to grow within major residential developments.

Fort Bend County’s population has increased nearly 20 percent and has sustained continuous growth over the last decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population spike has caused Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital and Kelsey-Seybold Clinic to broaden medical services within the county.

“If you look at the hospital industry, you’re seeing all of the major health care systems have a [large]presence in Fort Bend County,” said state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond. “I think it’s a reflection of our growth, and with growth comes the ever-increasing medical needs of the population.”

As Houston Methodist, Memorial Hermann and Kelsey-Seybold move forward with various expansions to their respective Fort Bend County hospitals, each health care system is now offering its services to major master-planned communities in Sugar Land and Missouri City through freestanding medical centers.

Chris Siebenaler, regional senior vice president and CEO for Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, said freestanding medical centers allow major medical facilities to reach residents who are struggling to find more specialized treatments and primary care services close to home.

“We’re trying to get [health]care closer to where people live,” he said. “Once you go into the community you need access to primary care, access to physical therapy, access to sports medicine and emergency services.”

Growth fuels expansion of medical community

Houston Methodist

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is nearing completion on its $131 million expansion, which includes a new six-story patient tower next to its central campus. The patient tower will help the hospital move closer to its 20-year goal to house 600 hospital beds by adding more than 100 beds to its current inventory, Siebenaler said.

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As the Sugar Land location continues to expand its campus over the next two decades, Siebenaler said the Houston Methodist system will establish additional specialized medical services at its campus that are intended to broaden the selection of health care options for county residents.

“The Texas Medical Center as a whole still attracts a significant patient base from the outlying communities surrounding Houston,” he said. “As we grow, we’re seeing patients [who]want to see treatment closer to home.”

In an effort to expand the specialized medical services available in the county, Houston Methodist opened its orthopedics and sports medicine center in June to cater to the growing athletic community in Sugar Land and Missouri City.

In addition to its orthopedics and sports medicine center, Houston Methodist also opened a new freestanding medical clinic in Sienna Plantation. As master-planned communities such as Sienna Plantation continue to construct more rooftops, major hospitals are struggling to provide quality medical services in suburban areas.

Sienbenaler said the freestanding medical centers situated within high-density suburban areas are intended to extend hospital services within the county. As home developers continue to construct new master-planned communities within Missouri City, freestanding medical centers are geared to provide convenient medical access to residents, Siebenhaler said.

“We’ve seen the Missouri City area really embrace [our freestanding clinics]because we’re much closer to [those residents]now,” he said. “It’s an extra 15-20 minutes they don’t have to drive to get emergency services. It’s a matter of convenience, and it’s a matter of putting services closer to where people live.”

Growth fuels expansion of medical community

Memorial Hermann

Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital is nearing completion on its $93 million expansion, which includes a $78 million patient tower and a $15 million office building.

Greg Haralson, senior vice president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital, said the hospital’s expansion is fueled by the growing demand of specialized medical services as a result of a growing population. Once construction of the patient tower is complete, it will provide 90 additional hospital beds as well as expand the hospital’s intermediate care, intensive care and maternity services.

Although the expansion will house new programs, Haralson said it allows Memorial Hermann to offer narrow-network health care options for employers across the county. Haralson said narrow-network health care is structured to offer cost-effective health insurance options for employers by providing coverage within a small pool of providers.

“You will eventually see people driven into value-based health care instead of volume-based health care,” he said. “As the economy begins to turn a little bit, we want to offer an opportunity for employers to turn to us and see how significantly less expensive our programs are.”

The major expansion also marks the establishment of Memorial Hermann’s new specialized sports medicine program in Fort Bend County.

The hospital plans to launch its new Iron Man Sports Medicine Institute in 2016. The new program is a byproduct of the hospital’s expansion and is intended to provide adult and child athletes various therapeutic and rehabilitation programs, Haralson said.

“When you have that large number of folks who want to stay active, and they want to continue to play the sports they want to play, it is a large part of our expansion,” Haralson said.

In addition, Memorial Hermann opened a convenient care clinic in Sienna Plantation to meet the needs of the growing population in the area, hospital officials said.

Growth fuels expansion of medical community

Kelsey-Seybold Clinic

Kelsey-Seybold Clinic broke ground on its new $9 million medical office building located near the Sienna Plantation and Riverstone master-planned communities in October.

The new building is slated to open in August 2016 and is a direct response to the increasing demand of medical services in the county’s suburban communities, according to Kelsey-Seybold officials.

John Lyle, vice president of operations at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, said the new 23,800-square-foot facility is intended to help the health system maintain its coverage within the county. Upon completion, the new Kelsey-Seybold facility in Sienna Plantation will house 12 physicians and will offer various medical specialties.

“I think we’re keeping up [with demand],” Lyle said. “If the growth that our other facilities [have experienced]are any indicators, it will not take more than just a few years to fill that facility.”

Zerwas said freestanding clinics such as Kelsey-Seybold’s new facility give residents convenient options and immediate medical treatment during emergency situations.

“A lot of these freestanding emergency rooms are just giving people more choices for where they can access their health care,” he said. “The facilities I’ve seen out there are obviously intended to help provide convenient access to [health]care when [residents]may need something less than a hospital facility.”

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Connor covers Sugar Land and Missouri City businesses, Fort Bend ISD, city government and Fort Bend County. He joined Community Impact Newspaper in December 2014 as the Sugar Land | Missouri City reporter.
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