UMC to propose $162M bond for new clinics

EL PASO, Texas - President and CEO of University Medical Center James Valenti already oversees eight healthcare centers and one new out-patient clinic on the West Side, but he'd like to add three more primary and specialty care clinics in the North, Northeast and Central El Paso by 2015.

"Our plan is to expand our clinic base throughout El Paso," Valenti said.

UMC is at-capacity, and while their emergency room visits have decreased from 60,000 in 2009, they're still attracting 56,000 patients per year. Valenti estimates 20% of these visits are for routine medical care, a cost of about $17 million that can be avoided if people go to neighborhood clinics, a health care island offering a pharmacy, lab, and rehab.

"A medical home," Valenti said. "This is where patients can establish relationships with nurse practitioners or doctors."

The price tag:$162 million, about two cents per $100,000 home valuation or $20 a year. That's about $1.70 per month. But is it worth it? You decide. Valenti says the 50-sq.ft. facilities can take 200,000 patients and taxpayers will save when emergency room visits decrease. The expansion will also create 450 new medical jobs.

"So it's good economic growth for our community as well," Valenti said.

As the application of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare begins, Valenti says UMC will be ready since 100,000 new uninsured patients can be covered in new clinics.

The public meeting at the Judge Edward Marquez Mission Valley Branch Library on Thursday will begin at 5:30 p.m. The rest of the scheduled meetings will begin at 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Carlos M. Ramirez TecH20 Center, 10751 Montana.
Wednesday: Canutillo High School, 6675 South Desert.
Thursday: Judge Edward Marquez Mission Valley Library, 601 N. Yarbrough.
Feb. 25: Tazas Coffee, 7858 San Jose.
Feb. 27: El Paso Community College, 9570 Gateway North. 

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