Anyone who drives on the expressway in McAllen can’t miss the new, contemporary earth-toned color scheme that McAllen Medical Center has unveiled on the skyline. But that’s just on the outside.
On the inside, patient rooms, nurses’ stations as well as the lobbies and dining areas are undergoing a total transformation. The 1980s-era building infrastructure will be updated, too, including the installation of more than 3,000 LED light bulbs, new elevators throughout, plumbing upgrades, and mechanical equipment. Crews are resurfacing the entire parking lot in stages, and color-coded wayfinding and illuminated building signage will guide patients to where they need to go. The multi-million dollar project began this February and is expected to last about two years.
McAllen Medical Center, where it sits today, first opened to the public in 1985. It is South Texas Health System’s largest acute care facility and one of the tallest buildings in McAllen – then and now. The last major infrastructure upgrade to the hospital occurred in 1993 with the addition of the seventh and eighth floors.
McAllen Medical Center was the first in the area to offer services such as open-heart surgery, one-day cardiac catheterization and magnetic resonance imaging. It is home to the Valley’s first neonatal intensive care unit and neonatal surgery center, and it is a designated Level III Trauma Center for Hidalgo County. “For decades, we continue to set the bar high for emergency care, new programs and technology,” says Chief Executive Officer, Todd Mann.
“These physical changes will influence the way employees, physicians and the community think about McAllen Medical Center. It’s just like when someone loses weight and gets a makeover. Their outward appearance makes them feel great on the inside, and in turn, it inspires confidence. This renovation says to the community – ‘be confident and trust us with your care.’ It says, ‘McAllen Medical will not stay stuck in a period of time.’ Just like the city that surrounds it, McAllen Medical Center is embracing change,” he says.
Mr. Mann explains that the project team wanted to get away from a traditional, stark hospital atmosphere and make it more comfortable and hotel-like for patients and their families. “The quality of the physical building will now match the quality and culture of the healthcare provided by our staff,” says Mr. Mann.
J. Humberto Rodriguez, a longtime member of the STHS Board of Governors, says it is important that patients have a good experience when they are receiving care at the hospital. “We have taken seriously the feedback our patients and visitors have provided, and we realized we needed to do more to enhance the environment,” he says. “These improvements will definitely make their stay more comfortable.”
“In the Valley, when someone gets sick, the entire family gets involved,” says Suresh Ratnam, MD, an oncologist and Chief of the Medical Staff for South Texas Health System. “When patients and their families come to a hospital, they are nervous, because they don’t know what is wrong. It is a time when every little thing matters. The light that flickers or the crack on the ceiling – when a patient is confined to one room, these can have an effect on healing just like the friendly smile of a nurse can. The environment should soothe, not be another cause for worry.”
Mr. Mann says most people tend to choose one hospital for their care. “People get to know the location, the doctors and the nurses who care for them. We have a lot of tenured and loyal physicians who have built relationships with entire generations of families. That warm feeling, familiarity with the medical staff, and knowing that this hospital has continuously thrived throughout the years keeps our patients coming back, and for that we are so grateful. We feel these upgrades will certainly be a nice complement to that care.”
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