Houston’s oldest hospital for black patients to be renovated and reopened as county health facility – Houston Public Media

Ashley Brown/Houston Public Media

Harris County and City of Houston officials announced plans to renovate the facility for Harris County services.

Houston’s first nonprofit health care facility for African Americans is being renovated after it closed in 2015.

Houston Negro Hospital opened in 1926, providing qualified doctors to work and provide care to African Americans and their families. In 1961 the name was changed to what is now Riverside General Hospital in the third quarter.

Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Qatar Harvey Fund officials and health experts unveiled the building sign as Phase 1 of renovations begin next year. Renovations include the hospital building, the nursing school building which opened in 1931, and the laundry building. A new adjacent building will be added later.

Four years ago, Harris County Commissioners agreed to invest in reopening the facility which will now house Harris County Public Health, other vital services and the headquarters of Access to Managed Care and Building Self-Sufficiency (ACCESS) Harris County – an integrated care coordination model that aims to improve outcomes for vulnerable people.

“I am grateful to know that soon this legacy of care will endure now and continue into the future,” said Commissioner Rodney Ellis, born at Riverside General Hospital. “Because of our city and county’s efforts to successfully purchase and invest in revitalization efforts.”

Ellis said working with the county and city will help ensure equal health care for all.

“Working with the city, we will try to do everything humanly possible to end these disparities,” he said. “All of this will largely happen right here, where many of the county’s safety net and public health programs will be under one roof at this site.”

The services that will be offered at the site are dental care, childhood vaccinations, flu shots, obesity reduction, asthma management, diabetes prevention, women’s infants and children, WIC program services, maternal and child health, and more.

Mayor Turner said that when the hospital was operating, it provided health care to those who needed it.

“I will tell you that when this hospital was functioning, it provided incredible services to the people who needed it the most, the most vulnerable,” he said. “When the doors closed, the city of Houston, and not just Third Ward, felt its impact.”

Turner said the reopening of Riverside Hospital will bring much-needed services to the Third Ward community.

“I am grateful for the vision and partnership with Commissioner Ellis and the Harris County Court of Commissioners and the generosity of the Houston Endowment and Qatar Fund,” he said. “The Commissioners Court’s decision four years ago to invest in the reopening of the historic Riverside General Hospital was a life-saving decision for this community.”

To help defray the cost of the project, Houston Endowment donated $5.3 million to purchase the property and the Qatar Harvey Fund (QHF) donated $2.5 million. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the State of Qatar created the QHF to administer $30 million to support the long-term recovery of Southeast Texas.

The Honorable Rashid bin Abdulla Al Dehaimi is the Consul General of the State of Qatar in Houston. He said the State of Qatar and Texas have worked together for many years and he wants to continue to find ways to work with Texas.

“Qatar supports this community project because our partnership and friendship in Texas goes back many years in business, education and cultural exchange,” he said. “[The] The Qatar Harvey Fund is a symbol of the close bond between Texas and the State of Qatar and to fill our continued friendship now or for many years to come.”

In 2019, the Qatar Harvey Fund donated over $4 million to renovate the historic Blue Triangle center in the Third Ward after damage from Hurricane Harvey.

Although construction costs are already being funded, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis says money for the actual operation is still dependent on the county budget.

“Later, when the next budget cycle comes around and this building is finished, we will need to have funds available to hire people to provide these services.

The project is expected to be completed in 2025.

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