EDINBURG — Pediatric health care is about to be more accessible in the Rio Grande Valley as construction begins on Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley.

Edinburg High School varsity cheerleaders dance as attendees celebrate a ground breaking for the Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Driscoll Children’s Hospital and DHR Health celebrated the groundbreaking of the first standalone children’s hospital in the Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday.

“Having a freestanding children’s hospital here in the Rio Grande Valley will allow us to really provide a lot of the specialty services that families are having to travel for today,” said Matt Wolthoff, president of Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley. “Really, it’s about bringing those specialty services here, being able to provide additional pediatric sub-specialties that, again, we really haven’t — on an inpatient basis — have not been able to provide those services here in the Valley.”

To be located on the DHR Health campus, the hospital will be an eight-level facility dedicated to acute pediatric care.

“Your hospital will provide inpatient acute, outpatient care on the medical side, surgical services, pediatric intensive care unit, emergency services dedicated only for children,” said Eric Hamon, president and CEO of Driscoll Health System. “We’re going to have a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit, rehab therapies, and much, much more.”

The new hospital represents a more than $100 million investment on behalf of DHR Health and Driscoll — $55 million from DHR and $50 million from Driscoll.

For the construction of the pediatric hospital, DHR inked a deal with the city of Edinburg, which includes an initial grant payment of $2 million from the city to DHR Health upon the completion and operation of the hospital.

Participants applaud as child shovel dirt during a ground breaking for the Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Beginning one year after the start date of the hospital’s operations, the city will also pay another $1 million every year for eight years.

In exchange for their investment, the city believes the project will not only expand healthcare access but will also attract businesses, new development, and other investment.

“The City recognizes that development of the Project will likely serve as an economic stimulus to the City, resulting in significant job growth and increased tax revenue for the City,” the contract stated.

The hospital is also expected to generate more than 300 new, full-time jobs, or “full-time equivalent” jobs, according to the contract.

“Once the hospital opens up operations, it’s going to create more than 500 new jobs, create significant economic impact to this market, and provide fantastic career opportunities on the clinical side, the ancillary side, and the supply side,” Hamon said, “so we’re really excited about that.”

The hospital currently has a projected opening date of May 2023.

“Today is a reality because of the leadership in this room and everyone in this room and our mutual desire to provide the absolute best care the children that we serve,” Hamon added, “and so together, we’re going to take care of these kids.”