Harris County ballot includes $2.5 billion bond item for renovations to LBJ and Ben Taub hospitals

The money would go toward a new trauma hospital and mental health services at LBJ and more inpatient rooms at Ben Taub.

Adrian Garcia Hospital District Bond
Patricia Ortiz/Houston Public Media
Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, left, speaks about a $2.5 billion bond proposal for the Harris Health System on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023.

The Harris Health System wants to renovate Ben Taub and Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) Hospitals with a $2.5 billion bond that is on the ballot for the Nov. 7 election.

Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, the CEO of the Harris Health System, said more than half of the money from the bond would be used to build a new trauma hospital and provide mental healthcare services at LBJ.

"Anyone today who is the victim of a major trauma, a stab wound, a gunshot wound, in the north, northwest, northeast Harris County would have to be driven or flown into the Texas Medical Center," Porsa said.

Porsa said the new hospital would provide patients with an opportunity to receive life-saving care faster.

Money from the bond would also be used to add more inpatient rooms at Ben Taub. Porsa said the money would keep the county's hospitals from falling apart.

"A couple years ago, we actually had several back-to-back-to-back plumbing failures where our employees and our patients were actually harmed," Porsa said.

The health system also wants to establish new community clinics in northwest, southwest and east Harris County to reach high-density, low socio-economic communities.

Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said that when he was a Houston police officer, he found comfort in knowing he would receive care at a Harris Health Hospital.

"Many people don't know ... that when law enforcement officers are severely injured or hurt, it's our hospital district who steps up to treat the men and women in uniform that we ask to protect us," he said.

According to the Harris Health System, the county's population has nearly doubled since both hospitals opened more than 30 years ago. Garcia said this is their first bond proposal since the hospitals were created.

"It's truly about saving lives and providing people access to quality care," Garcia said. "That if they had the financial means, that they could go into a private hospital and receive, but they can get the same type of high-quality care through our hospital system as long as it has all the resources and capacity to provide it."

If approved by voters, property owners would see a 2-cent tax increase as a result of the bond. According to the health system, this means an owner of a $300,000 property would pay about $6 a month for the bond.

The district said all plans for the bond would begin in 2024 if approved. This includes construction for the new hospital on the LBJ campus, planning and design for the new community clinics, and upgrades to Ben Taub Hospital. More information can be found online.

Monday is the first day of early voting. Election day is Nov. 7. Early voters can submit their ballots at one of 68 polling locations across town from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. this week.