SANANTONIO -- CHRISTUS Santa Rosa has announced it is turning its downtown campus into a free-standing children s hospital.

One day after University Health System and the UT Health Science Center said they are looking at proposals involving Baptist and Methodist, CHRISTUS unveiled plans to build its own children s hospital starting now.

CHRISTUS showed off artist s renderings of what the Children s Hospital of San Antonio will look like in about two years.

After talks about a children s hospital involving University Health System fell apart six weeks ago, CHRISTUS decided to strike out on its own.

The renovated campus will have 800,000 square feet of space at a price of $135 million, requiring no taxpayer support.

This is about one-third the cost with about twice the space as developing a new hospital, explained CHRISTUS CEO Pat Carrier. So in these very trying times, we felt like this was a very prudent move financially for us.

CHRISTUS sees 70,000 child emergency cases a year, with 80,000 outpatient visits and 6,000 inpatients. The new facility will be licensed for up to 275 beds.

This is good for children, said USAA Chief Executive Officer Joe Robles. This is good for the community. This is absolutely good for the city center.

San Antonio being the seventh-largest city in the country and not to have a freestanding children s hospital is very unusual, added CHRISTUS Foundation Board member Bobby Cavender. So now we will be able to accomplish that dream.

Adult patients will be moved to other CHRISTUS facilities over the next few months. Contractors are set to be in place in 60 days with construction beginning in about six months.

The president of the U.T. Health Science Center, Dr. William Henrich, put out a statement saying when it comes to the health of our children in San Antonio andSouth Texas, the U.T. Health Science Center continues to have one clear and consistent goal: to provide comprehensive and superior quality health care that returns sick children to full health and keeps all children healthy and also ensures superb training for future physicians in pediatrics.

Henrich goes on to say our longstanding relationship with Christus Santa Rosa is important to us, as is our goal of having a comprehensive, state-of-the-art pediatric teaching facility that will deliver the best care to children and attract the finest pediatric specialists in the country to do so.

The Health Science Center is committed to continuing conversations with all parties who share this goal until we can secure the very best solution for our children, Henrich stated. The children of our community deserve nothing less than this.

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