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Healthcare facilities plan expansions in Katy

Posted: 12/03/2015
Author: Sebastian Herrera - Houston Chronicle

Healthcare facilities plan expansions in Katy

Katy-area health-care leaders are preparing to expand medical facilities and programs as they see Houston's population growth continuing westward.

"We're having a great deal of expansion happening right now" in health care, said Lance LaCour, president/CEO of the Katy Area Economic Development Council, which recently hosted a gathering in which officials from local medical facilities outlined strategies to handle increasing demand for services.

"It's a key part of our economy, it's important as a quality-of-life factor, and health care is seen as one of the target industries to recruit other companies here," LaCour said.

Memorial Herman Katy will continue to add beds and build out its facilities while also expanding programs such as critical care, hospital CEO Jim Parisi said.

The hospital, located on the corner of the Grand Parkway and Interstate 10, recently opened a second medical plaza on its grounds and will open an $85 million, six-story patient tower in January.

The tower will initially add 57 beds to the 142-bed hospital and will ultimately add 101 more.

"We will continue to expand areas needed like critical care … and our emphasis is to detail our major initiatives while communicating our dedication to continued patient safety and outstanding workplace environment," Parisi said.

About 75 percent of patients at Parisi's hospital, as well as other local hospitals, live between Texas 6 and Sealy - an area where the population of those who are at least age 65 is expected to grow by 44.7 in the next five years.

Significant increases are also coming for those who are young adults or ages 55-64, Parisi said.

MD Anderson Cancer Center will open a second Katy location in two to three years, said Gregory Chronowski, associate professor of radiation oncology at the MD Anderson center on Kingsland Boulevard.

MD Anderson has five Houston-area locations, including its main facility in Houston's Texas Medical Center. The addition of an 180,000-square-foot facility in Katy will tremendously aid in meeting the area's cancer treatment needs, Chronowski said.

The current MD Anderson facility in Katy occupies 20,000 square feet.

"With the expansion in Katy, we're looking to put our services where our residents live," Chronowski said. "This is kind of a national trend. All of Houston's suburbs have growing populations of cancer centers. We feel it's important for all suburbs, but most of the growth in Houston is west; so we need to fill those needs."

Chronowski also said it will be critical for all medical centers to partner and aid each other with services, saying, "It is part of smartly dealing with growth. (Working together) is the future of health care."

Chronowski and Parisi's facilities already partner to provide Memorial Herman patients with certain cancer screenings.

Texas Children's Hospital West, located directly off the Katy Freeway westbound, is undergoing a $50 million expansion that has already added 18 beds to the acute care unit and will build out an additional floor and expand its clinic, Assistant Vice President Matthew Shaefer said.

He said his hospital only uses 18 of its 55 acres and promised future construction.

The greatest concern for area health-care facilities is in staffing qualified workers, said Peyton Elliot, vice president of operations at the area's West Houston Methodist Hospital.

In January, Elliot's hospital, located off the Katy Freeway, will begin a $570 million expansion to add 100 beds in six new floors and boost capacity in emergency, surgical and diagnostic care. A parking garage will also rise in January, and in the next five years, Elliot said he will have to increase his staff, now 1,500, by 500.

"One of the things I worry about is staffing, because it's a competitive labor market and there's a worry that the demand will outgrow the supply," Elliot said. "I just wonder where we are going to get workers."

Elliot noted the national shortage of qualified workers in medical positions such as nursing or lab technicians.

Part of that solution, said Stan Goss, chairman of the EDC talent committee, will come through the partnerships between the medical facilities and the council. The EDC facilitates numerous discussions aimed at helping local businesses including those in health care, Goss said.

"This dialogue produces great thinking and knowing how we can all best work together," Goss said. "The theme of everything (the EDC does) is: 'What is the economic impact or benefit?' We've looked at mobility, higher education, etc. Health care ties into it for the economic impact of this area."

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