Christus to invest $10M, launch new model of medical care

Published 5:00 am Sunday, July 26, 2015

Christus Southeast Texas Health System is transforming the current healthcare model to meet the demands of a growing number of regional residents’ outpatient needs.

The medical care provider — formerly Christus Health Southeast Texas — announced a new patient-centered model last month that will shuffle services among its existing 27 locations and deliver more access points to outpatient health centers in nine counties.

Roy Steinhagen, chairman of the Christus Southeast Texas Health System Board of Directors, said the new approach is the organization’s response to a growing trend in outpatient care.

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“The big picture is to bring the facilities where the people are and to increase access to care,” Steinhagen said. “We want to reduce the wait times and give them more options.”

Paul Trevino, CEO of Christus Southeast Texas Health System, said the new “community-centric approach” — that comes with an initial $10 million investment — will serve as the launchpad for Christus’ plan to bring new healthcare locations to communities including Port Arthur, Mid-County, Beaumont, Silsbee and Orange.

“This is about growth,” Trevino said, “and upgrading from the traditional hospital-centric approach to smaller, more frequent outpatient-centric facilities.”


Trevino said the new model will impact Christus Southeast Texas- St. Mary first, with a “reconfiguration of services.” Beginning Sept. 1, the hospital will transform into a center for outpatient chemotherapy and infusion services, a short-stay inpatient and outpatient surgical center, and emergency room.

While St. Mary loses its remaining “underutilized” services to its sister hospital, St. Elizabeth in Beaumont, Christus Southeast Texas Health System will begin construction on a new outpatient facility in Port Arthur at Highway 365 and Ninth Avenue. Trevino said the new outpatient facility will serve as an imaging and diagnostics center, as well as a free-standing emergency room for Mid- and South County residents.

“We’re looking to open our new Mid-County outpatient center in January 2015,” he said, adding the existing Christus Southeast Texas Outpatient Center inside the old Bishop Byrne High School at Texas 73 and Ninth Avenue will relocate to the new facility once it’s complete. “We’ll expand our outpatient physicians rooms, our imaging services and laboratory services — it’s all about making access to health care convenient for each of our communities.”

Wayne Moore, Christus- St. Mary administrator and vice president of operations for Christus hospitals, said the existing outpatient center acts as a women’s center, radiology lab, PT clinic and concussion clinic. When those services move further north on Ninth Avenue, Moore said, Christus will grant some of their equipment and the old Bishop Byrne building to the Gulf Coast Health Center.

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner and work with Christus,” Marsha Thigpen, executive director of Gulf Coast Health Center, said in a statement. “This collaborative effort will allow us to not only continue our service to our community, but elevate the level of care for our patients in Port Arthur through expanded facilities and more advanced technology.”

“As soon as everyone is moved and settled, we’re going to partner with the Gulf Coast Health Center to recruit more primary care physicians into our facilities,” Moore added. “We have about a 100 primary care physician deficit in this area, and we all felt we could fill it more effectively if we used our long-standing partnership to work as a team once more.”

Richard Gonzalez, CEO of The Medical Center of Southeast Texas, said his facility will be the one constant during this time of change.

“For the last 10 years, The Medical Center of Southeast Texas has fulfilled its mission to provide high-quality, patient-focused health care services to the residents of Port Arthur and surrounding communities,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “As the area has grown and expanded, so have our capabilities and capacity. We are well positioned to continue serving the healthcare needs of our area residents now and in the future, with a full complement of acute care and specialty medical services.”


The Christus $10 million investment plan calls for the construction of a new micro hospital — equipped with emergency, outpatient and physician services at a lower cost but with limited beds — off Highway 365 in Mid-County by 2015.

But Trevino said the plan for new facilities doesn’t stop there. Within the next three years, he said, Christus Southeast Texas Health System will expand from its existing 27 locations to more than 40 service sites region-wide, increasing access to urgent care centers, outpatient clinics, primary care practices and state-of-the art specialty care.

By the end of 2018, Mid-County will be home not just to the new micro hospital, but a freestanding emergency room, an imaging center and an urgent care facility. Beaumont will be home to a new urgent care facility. Trevino said future locations are also in the works for Orange, Bridge City and Silsbee.

“As we look to the future and monitor the evolving needs of our community, we will continue to address changes needed to stay on the forefront of healthcare,” Trevino said, adding Christus Southeast Texas- St. Elizabeth will receive several upgrades to retain its status as “the primary acute care hospital” for Southeast Texas.

Trevino said Christus will invest $2.1 million for renovations to the St. Elizabeth NICU, upgrading it to the “highest level of care in Southeast Texas.” Christus will also upgrade the emergency room services at St. Elizabeth to a Level 2 trauma center, which would make it the highest level of emergency care available between Houston and Baton Rouge, Trevino said.

“St. Elizabeth will continue to be the priority facility for inpatient services. Nothing is changing about that,” Moore said. “If you have a very serious condition or if you are a high-risk patient — in this market, certainly — St. Elizabeth is the place to be.”

The final phase of the Christus plan will be to expand the health system’s primary care network. Trevino said the approved plan will increase the Christus Physician Group Primary Care Clinics from an existing eight today to 15 within the next three years, with more than 40 primary care providers.

Twitter: @crhenderson90