HOUSTON (KIAH)—-The Harris Health System Board of Trustees approved a request for the Harris County Commissioners Court to order a bond election for an estimated $2.5 billion. The purpose of this is to help rebuild and upgrade Harris Health’s facilities that are coming to an end of its use and have been operating at near capacity for several years.

If the bond request passes in the November ballot, the bond referendum will provide the funds for the public safety net. Harris Health System Board of Trustees Chair, Arthur Bracey said, “Without immediate public investment, our hospitals and emergency rooms will continue to exceed capacity on a daily basis. We need to act now to address the immediate needs but also prepare for the inevitable growth in demand as Harris County grows.”

The $2.5 billion bond and capital construction package includes several essential initiatives such as the construction of a new Level I-capable trauma center that will replace the current Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) Hospital, new community-based clinics in areas in need and provide necessary investments into Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital.

President and CEO for the Harris Health System, Esmaeil Porsa said, “LBJ and Ben Taub were built over 30 years ago, and in that time our community has grown exponentially. The addition of a Level I-capable trauma center will be the first of its kind in Harris County outside of the Texas Medical Center and is vital in meeting the needs of our region.”

According to the American College of Surgeons, it’s recommended to have one high-level trauma center for every 1 million people. This makes the proposed Level I trauma center a big addition to the county’s healthcare infrastructure.

Harris County currently has two adult Level I trauma centers that serve almost 4.8 million people. Houston is the second fastest-growing major metropolitan area in the United States. Harris County is expected to have over six million residents with more than 1.5 million uninsured people by 2050. In addition to the bond, Harris health plans to raise $100 million in philanthropic support and $300 million from operational savings to help with the $2.9 billion strategic capital improvement plan.

Over the next three months, Harris County Commissioners Court will decide on the bond request. Commissioners will be allowed to take action on the bond proposal this August to either put that bond on the ballot in November 2023 or decline.