More Than $200 Million in Medical Technology Coming to West Texas

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND/ODESSA--With that money comes some pretty pricey additions for area hospitals.  But is it too much too fast and can our economy handle it?

The hospitals in Midland and Odessa are fairly old facilities, both 60 years old.  While administrators say the construction at Medical Center is an expansion, Midland Memorial is calling theirs a replacement.  But both projects are being done, to keep up with modern technology.

According to Bill Webster, CEO of Medical Center Hospital, "We have 25 to 30 year old facilities, that we currently have that are really inadequate for today's needs."

Medical Center Hospital has two projects in the works.  The Center for Health and Wellness is set to open in October of this year.  Construction on the new Center for Women and Infants is about to take off.

"We're targeted to break ground on that project in June of 2010 and it should become operational by January of 2012," Webster said.

Webster says the future direction of health care is in out-patient treatment, that's why they need for the center on Highway 191.

The Women and Infants Center will help them fulfill their task, as a teaching hospital for Texas Tech Health Sciences Center.

According to Webster, "To continue to meet Texas Tech's needs for an OB training program and the neo-natal intensive care unit, it's vital that we move ahead with this project."

In Midland, construction is already underway on a project, unanimously passed by voters last year.  When it's complete, it will combine the West and Main campuses into one in-patient environment.

"The building we opened in July of 1950 still has our in patients in it.  With little tiny rooms and plumbing that is 60 years old and in really rough shape.  Inadequate support space.  Inability to handle modern technology.  That's our current reality," Midland Memorial CEO, Russell Meyers, said.

Even though they are calling it a replacement, Meyers says there are some areas for expansion, "Especially critical care. We routinely run out of ICU and CCU beds."

But there is one big question.  Is the local economy stable enough to support all this costly construction?  Surprisingly enough, the answer in both cities is yes.

"It's made construction costs cheaper.  It's allowed us to be more aggressive when negotiating equipment costs," Meyers said.

"We actually received favorable construction pricing on the project, saving about 25% on estimates we had received last fall," Webster added.

Administrators say, this round of construction should be enough to keep both facilities up to speed for the next eight to ten years.