Harris County voters will be asked to approve a $2.5 billion bond issue from the Harris Health System to fund the rebuilding and upgrading of several hospital district facilities, including an expansion of Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. 

Harris County Commissioners on Thursday voted unanimously to put the bond request on the November ballot.

“I think that means something in the eye of the county that all commissioners from all backgrounds considered this to be something that is urgently needed for the future health of this county.” said Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, president and CEO of Harris Health System. 

The Harris Health board of trustees unanimously voted to recommend the bond package to Commissioners Court in April, with health system leaders underscoring the importance of the proposal.

“This is a once in a lifetime type of project,” Porsa previously told Houston Landing.

If passed by voters, the bond package would include funding for:

  • an expansion of LBJ Hospital, including the addition of a new Level I-capable trauma center, to open in 2028;
  • renovation of the existing LBJ Hospital;
  • the addition and renovation of Harris Health clinics across the county;
  • the renovation of Ben Taub Hospital.

The hospital district’s capital improvement plans will cost $2.9 billion to complete, but Harris Health plans to fund a portion of that cost through philanthropic donations and internal cost cutting measures.

The bond proposal is projected to cost less than $6 a month for the owner of a home valued at $300,000. That will amount to about 2 cents per $100 in assessed value once the entire $2.5 billion has been borrowed in about a decade, according to Harris Health.

Harris Health, formerly known as the Harris County Hospital District, operates the county’s public safety net hospital system. It includes two hospitals and 20 clinics, health centers and specialty clinics.

Harris County currently has two adult Level I trauma centers — at Memorial Hermann Hospital and Ben Taub Hospital, both located inside the Texas Medical Center — serving a population of almost 4.8 million. The American College of Surgeons recommends one high-level trauma center for every 1 million people.

Rendering of proposed LBJ hospital in Harris County
A rendering of the proposed LBJ hospital in Harris County (Courtesy photo / Harris Health System)

The impact a new adult Level I-capable trauma center could have on the lives of Harris County residents, especially those living in the county’s northeast corridor that are primarily served by LBJ, cannot be overstated, Porsa said.

“It’s a matter of life and death,” he said.

Harris Health now will focus on educating and engaging voters ahead of the November election, Porsa said.

A new political action committee, Healthy Harris County, has been formed to help pass the bond measure, according to a Thursday afternoon press release.

“A vote for the bonds will mean major benefits for Harris County, including expanding access to high quality and affordable healthcare, thousands of new jobs, and hundreds of millions of dollars in positive economic impact,” said Healthy Harris County Treasurer Bob Eury in the release.

Organizations, including the Houston Police Officers Union, the Harris County Medical Society and the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce all pledged support for the bond measure in the release.

Election Day is Nov. 7, 2023. Early voting runs from Oct. 23, through Nov. 3.

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Tim Carlin is the Houston Landing's civic engagement reporter. An Ohio native, Tim comes to Houston after spending a year in Greenville, South Carolina, covering Greenville County government for The Greenville...