Central Health moves forward with Eastern Travis County developments

The Central Health Board of Managers approved the expansion of its Eastern Travis County health and wellness centers at a virtual meeting Wednesday night.

Central Health Vice Presidents Stephanie McDonald and Mike Knodel presented a slideshow on the proposed expansions.

“Although tonight is probably the culmination of the planning effort, it does begin the commencement, with your approval, of the construction phase,” McDonald told the board.

Central Health seeks to construct three new health care clinics in Hornsby Bend, Del Valle and Colony Park. Each neighborhood is low-income and over 80 percent Latino.

“I’m really pleased and delighted to see this project moving forward,” Board Member Maram Museitif said. “It’s been years in the making and if we’ve learned anything from this Covid-19 pandemic it is the importance of access to critical care and how communities of color, especially those who have been living in poor neighborhoods, have been disproportionately impacted by this awful pandemic.”

The estimated capital investment is $32.9 million stretching from the present fiscal year to Fiscal Year 2024, with $4.3 million budgeted for this fiscal year and $19.5 million for FY 2022.

Operating costs for the three centers ranged from $2.8 million-$5.1 million during the first 12 months. When full operations are set to begin during the centers’ second year of opening, that range expands from $3.6 million-$6.2 million.

The Colony Park neighborhood, population 19,000, has the most Central Health enrollees with 31.2 percent of the population, and its clinic is, fittingly, the most ambitious. The plan is to staff three to four medical providers and two dental providers, implement an integrated mental health care program and establish a Class A pharmacy. The project is expected to cost $16 million and no design schedule was given at the meeting.

Del Valle is the largest of the three neighborhoods with a population of 22,000, 19.8 percent of which are Central Health enrollees. The proposed clinic would staff three medical providers, two dental providers, an integrated mental health care program and a Class A pharmacy. The proposed 14,000-square-foot clinic is estimated to cost $10 million with construction anticipated to begin in December.

In the relatively small community of Hornsby Bend, 16.1 percent of the residents are Central Health enrollees. The proposed 7,500-square-foot clinic is designed to have two medical providers on staff, oral and mental health programs and a Class D pharmacy. Construction is expected to begin in the fall, and the estimated cost of the project is $5 million.

“The calendars, I know, may be a little ambitious, Stephanie, but I’m glass-half-full right now to commence (construction),” Chairperson Sherri Greenberg said.

Following approval of the commencement of the project, the board went into closed sessions to discuss the expansions.

When the board reconvened for the public, it approved amending the FY 2021 capital budget by increasing the project budget for its Eastern Travis County developments from $5 million to $8.5 million.

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.

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