SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Could a mini-hospital be in route to the Island?

During an Economic Development Board (EDC) meeting held earlier this week, SPI EMS Medical Director Dr. Richard Joe Ybarra announced the results of a Hospital Feasibility Study conducted for the Island.

Ibarra said the project is going to need funding and planning, but the study determined the Island could sustain a micro-hospital, which is comprised of an emergency room with a few hospital beds.

“The feasibility study shows positive results and now we just need to execute the details,” Ibarra said. “And in the meantime, build something where we can provide our visitors and our citizens with healthcare.”

According to Ibarra, the smallest micro-hospital would cost about $10 million.

Ibarra said in prior years he “unsuccessfully tried” to bring healthcare to the Island through various independent projects.

However, he believes his latest project will be successful if the city becomes a partner.

“Unfortunately, those projects didn’t succeed,” Ibarra said. “And as I analyzed why they didn’t, it’s because we didn’t form a partnership with the city.”

During the meeting, EDC Board Directors expressed their interest in Ybarra’s project.

“As you can tell, certainly we’re behind this and I think it’s something the Island definitely needs,” said Mickey Furcron. “So, we certainly want to support that.”

Ibarra said he plans to partner with other entities such as the Harlingen Medical Center and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Harlingen Medical Center CEO Matt Wolthoff said he appreciates Ibarra’s passion and commitment to bringing healthcare to the Island.

“We are interested in partnering in that endeavor and whatever that looks like in the future, we’d like to play a role in that,” he said. “We feel right now urgent care is probably the best starting point for the Island and we can certainly look at growing it from there.”

Alana Hernandez