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logo MEDCMission Regional Medical Center representatives asked the economic development corporation not to give a competing hospital incentive to build a free-standing emergency department 600 feet away at the MEDC’s Tuesday meeting.

Universal Health Systems asked for up to $110,000 to offset the costs of infrastructure and job creation as it prepares to build a 13,000-square-foot facility on the expressway next to the Mission hospital.

Because the item on the MEDC agenda was listed as a public hearing, no action was taken.

Doug Matney, regional vice president with UHS, also known as South Texas Health System, said the ER will be the second such facility in the Valley. They started construction on the first one in Weslaco two weeks ago, he said. UHS operates in the Valley as South Texas Health System and owns several hospitals in the area, including McAllen Medical Center and Edinburg Regional Medical Center.

Matney estimated the investment in Mission at $18.6 million, and he estimated 34 employees.

Javier Iruegas, CEO of Mission Regional Medical Center, attended the MEDC meeting with several of the hospital’s board members.

“This proposed facility is a wasteful duplication of high-cost services that this part of the community already enjoys,” Iruegas said. “If the subjects are interested in investing in our community, there are numerous underserved areas throughout our county that can truly benefit from this type of facility.”

What the area could use, Iruegas said, is a low-cost night clinic.

Instead, patients at the proposed emergency department who need to be hospitalized will be taken to one of South Texas Health System’s facilities in McAllen or Edinburg, Iruegas said, adding that 25 percent of his hospital’s patient volume comes through its emergency room.

“Mission Regional Medical Center serves as the last remaining independent not-for-profit community hospital south of San Antonio and is an important community resource worth fighting for and supporting,” Iruegas said.

“We do not object to competition. If South Texas Health System was building a full-service hospital in Mission, I would not be here today, but the sole purpose of a free-standing ER is very different.”


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