Breaking ground for a hospital in Orange

Published 3:03 pm Tuesday, January 25, 2022

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By Dawn Burleigh

Nor rain nor cold could keep the crowd away as people gathered for the groundbreaking and blessing of a hospital in Orange on Monday.

A Groundbreaking Celebration and Blessing event for CHRISTUS-anchored, two-story, 55,000 square foot building. The new facility will house a 24/7 emergency hospital and key outpatient diagnostic services, with the remaining space leased to physicians. The 5.5-acre site of the first phase of the planned medical campus is near U.S. Interstate 10 eastbound and State Highway 62 in Orange.

The property was donated to the city of Orange by Gisela Houseman. The facility will be named the Gisela Houseman Medical Campus.

The journey to this day started long before Baptist Hospital Orange closed its emergency room services. Emergency services were discontinued at the hospital since January 12, 2017. The closure led to a petition requesting an election for the formation of a Hospital District in Orange County. With 1,253 votes for the district and with 6,342 voting against the proposition in the final tally, the hospital district did not pass.

“Today is overwhelming,” Gisela Houseman said. “It has been a team effort. Everybody came together to do their part. This is the best example if everyone working together.”

Orange Mayor Larry Spear Jr called the moment a crowning achievement.

“This is wonderful, a crowning achievement of all involved,” Spears said. “To be able to give aid and support to a person in need…”

Team members from NexCore Group and CHRISTUS Southeast Texas spoke on the commitment of the community to see this project through to this point.

“Orange and the surrounding communities showed a string desire to make this happen,” Paul Trevino, community developer, said. “We look for two things, one is strong community support and two is an invitation to the community. This project is one of the finest.”

Pieces of the project were put together through collaboration of several local entities from Orange County Economic Development, City of Orange Economic Development, Orange City Council, County Judge and commissioners, Dr. Marty Rutledge, Brad Childs, Shawn Sparrow, and Gisela Houseman. Many more were involved as well.

“To this point, it was always, ‘But you don’t have a hospital’, we could build a new street, not 16th street, but we did not have a hospital,” Spears said. “By putting Christ first in all we do, the mud and rain is ok because now a hospital is on the way.”

Rutledge reached out to congressmen and other elected officials with concerns of the pervious hospital closing and what it could mean to the community.

“Marty was convinced it would happen. Me, not so much,” Gisela Houseman said. She spoke of the many times the project would take two steps forward and four steps back. Through it all, Rutledge never gave up hope.

Congressman Brian Babin said Orange County was the largest whole county in his district without a hospital.

“When the ER closed in 2016, Marty called me,” Babin said. “His work ethic is second to none.”

“Ten years ago, Rutledge contacted me concerned the hospital would close, before it closed,” Senator Robert Nichols said. “He was in it early. Houseman donating the land pulled it together. Houseman, it could not have happened without you.”

Rutledge presented a plaque to Houseman for her contributions to the making the dream of a medical center in Orange a reality.

“I know Tony is watching,” Houseman said. “Thank you all.”