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As soon as a lifeline for Third Ward, shuttered Riverside Hospital to return as well being care hub – Houston Chronicle


The long-planned revitalization of Riverside Basic Hospital will rework the historic Third Ward web site right into a hub for safety-net well being care providers, equivalent to violence prevention, behavioral well being and Black maternal well being, Harris County officers introduced Monday.

Earlier than the hospital grew to become embroiled in controversy and shuttered in 2015, Riverside was a crucial useful resource in a neighborhood that lacks enough well being care protection. Its community of 4 campuses throughout the town had grow to be one among space’s the most important suppliers of psychological well being providers and substance abuse therapy.

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Harris County bought the positioning at 3204 Ennis Avenue in 2018, with the assistance of a $5.3 million grant from the nonprofit Houston Endowment Inc., hoping to revive it as a hub for psychological well being therapy. Monday’s announcement revealed the official plan: to make use of the hospital because the headquarters for ACCESS Harris County, a program unanimously permitted by commissioners final yr to sort out well being care disparities by addressing bodily or psychological well being, housing wants, substance abuse and social inequity.

Different Harris County Public Well being packages will transfer into the positioning.

“For some cause, folks on this neighborhood and all through our nation, folks of shade, have survived and endured, however in Harris County, working with the town, we will attempt to do as a lot as humanly doable to finish these disparities,” Precinct One Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis mentioned throughout a information convention on the web site. “It would all occur to a terrific extent proper right here.”

Riverside was initially often known as the Houston Negro Hospital when it opened in 1926 as the town’s first nonprofit well being care supplier for Black residents. On the time, Black docs had been barred from training drugs in white hospitals.

Throughout Monday’s information convention, a variety of Black neighborhood leaders in Third Ward mentioned they had been born on the web site. Standing below the stone entryway, with “Houston Negro Hospital Faculty of Nursing” engraved above him, Ellis described it as a crown jewel within the metropolis. The buildings are historic landmarks and have to be preserved.

“That signal won’t ever go away this constructing,” he mentioned. “It is going to be a transparent reminder of how far we’ve come and the way far we’ve but to go.”

A 2019 Rice University needs assessment of Third Ward discovered that solely 68 % of residents who responded had medical insurance, in comparison with the nationwide common of 92 %. Prevalence of diabetes, bronchial asthma, neck issues, and hypertension — in addition to sure psychological well being circumstances — had been larger than nationwide developments.

Providers deliberate for the brand new web site embrace dental care, childhood vaccinations, flu pictures, weight problems discount, bronchial asthma administration, diabetes prevention, and maternal and toddler well being. It additionally will provide entry to the Ladies, Toddler and Youngsters (WIC) meals program.

The whole challenge is anticipated to value round $150 million, officers say, principally funded by tax {dollars}. A $2.5 million donation from the Qatar Harvey Fund helped get the challenge off the bottom, Ellis mentioned. Renovations within the present three buildings will begin subsequent yr and are anticipated to be accomplished in 2025. Later phases included a fourth constructing that can provide more room for Harris County Public Well being.  

HOSPITAL SCANDAL: Riverside Hospital ex-CEO, 3 others convicted in Medicare fraud case

The hospital closed in 2015 following scandal and mismanagement. According to earlier reports, a federal well being care prosecution uncovered a $160 million Medicare billing rip-off at Riverside that ensnared a dozen hospital officers. Former CEO Earnest Gibson III and three others, together with his son, Earnest Gibson IV, had been discovered responsible at trial in 2014.

A FEMA audit launched in September 2015 decided that Riverside officers mismanaged a $32 million Hurricane Ike restoration grant by utilizing taxpayer funds for present playing cards, basic operations and different bills not related to storm repairs. A 3-member committee of conservators who took management of the hospital in April 2014 additionally did not cease the abuse, the audit discovered.

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