ORANGE, Texas — Close to 100 people gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of an Orange hospital that officials said could be the difference between life and death for some.
Construction has already begun on the new state-of-the-art hospital. It will be the first hospital in Orange since 2017.
"It's unfathomable to try to even gauge what this means to our community," Orange Mayor Larry Spears said.
Many are relieved knowing they will no longer have to drive to Beaumont for health care or during emergencies.
“It’s very much needed here in Orange County,” Darlene Farek, ER clinical director at CHRISTUS St. Mary, said. “I think it’s really important to have healthcare in a community like this, that’s vulnerable to hurricanes and floods.”
The Gisela Houseman Medical Campus will get rid of a more than 20 minute drive for most residents in need of care.
“We've got great hospitals surrounding us, but it's a drive to get there, and we've had incidents in past years where that drive has cost someone their life,” Orange County Judge John Gothia said.
City officials said being one of the largest counties in Texas without a hospital was not what they wanted to be known for.
“We worked very, very hard,” Judge Gothia said. “Everyone has worked very hard to be sure we have good medical care for our citizens in Orange County.”
The Gisela Houseman Medical Campus will be 55,000 square feet and will spread across more than 20 acres. It will house a 24/7 emergency hospital staffed by CHRISTUS Southeast Texas.
The building will also feature private offices for doctors such as Marty Rutledge. Rutledge said his work on the project has been some of his most meaningful work yet.
“It's right at the top, it really is. It's great for the community, and it's great for our patients,” Rutledge said. “I’m concerned about patient care. I've been here for a long time. I love my patients, and I want to see them have the best care possible.”
The building is named after the woman who donated land to help make it possible. Gisela Houseman has been a resident of Orange for 35 years and donated all the land needed for the medical campus.
“Having my name on it is unbelievable,” Houseman said. “I’m just so honored, because my part is a very small part actually. I just got the opportunity to give back to the community, so I’m just delighted that I was able to give back a little bit.”
The ground breaking has lifted a great deal of weight off of the city’s back.
“You can do all these wonderful things, but you don’t have a hospital,” Mayor Spears, said. “So, I sincerely say thank you, cause now I can walk into the barbershop or Kroger and not get ripped apart because we don't have a hospital.”
The collaborative effort between Orange residents, officials, healthcare professionals and others made the medical campus possible.
“Really enables us to have easy access to all the communities in Orange and the surrounding areas," Paul Trevino, CEO at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health Systems, said. “State of the art facilities, state of the art equipment, state of the art people, we are really just bringing the best that we have to this community."
Officials hope to have the Gisela Houseman Medical Campus open in 2023.