It’s difficult to get through a day without seeing or hearing a headline that reminds you of today’s uncertain financial landscape. People are worried about saving for retirement and paying for their kids’ education. We hear about layoffs. And when we see the low gas prices, we’re reminded there’s a shortfall at the company where your neighbor, your church member or your spouse works.
Many of us can’t help but carry the burden of financial concerns these days. We all remember the recession of 2008, but even then, Houston was comparatively unscathed and among the quickest-to-rebound cities. But this time feels different, because it is different.
Now, because the oil and gas industry is primarily impacted, Houston is feeling the brunt of it. And subsequently your friends and family in the oil industry have been or may be impacted. And to some degree, we feel residual effects at Texas Children’s because the families of our patients are impacted.
I understand that many of you carry these concerns with you into work, and then you hear that we, too, are “managing to the margin” – or more pointedly, tightening our belts. You worry about that, and I understand. But I’ve got three things I want you to think about. Three things that are shaping a really promising future for all of us here at Texas Children’s.
First, we are proactively managing our margin right now in response to positive growth. That’s a really good thing. Have you been out to The Woodlands lately? Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands is looking amazing, and it is months from opening its outpatient services. We will spend $360 million to build this 550,000-square-foot facility, which will ultimately house 32 acute care beds, 28 ICU/NICU beds, 25 Emergency Center patient rooms and offer services in 29 medical and surgical pediatric subspecialties.
And if you’ve been to the medical center campus recently, you’ve seen the cranes and the work we’ve begun on our 19-floor, 640,000-square-foot pediatric inpatient care tower. We will spend $575 million on this new tower, opening in 2018, and the renovation of our Emergency Center, to be completed in 2020.
The fact that we can invest in state-of-the-art facilities like these is a testament to our organization’s financial strength and is in response to ever increasing demand for our services. The more exceptional our care, the higher the demand for our services. We are responding to that demand by expanding our clinical programs, facilities and, most importantly, our workforce.
That’s the second thing I want you to think about – our people. To ensure we can fulfill our mission, deliver on the promise of providing the best possible care, we’ve got to have the right people in place. Our team has to be the right size, have the right skills and talents and be the right fit for the culture of our one amazing team here at Texas Children’s. So that means right now our recruitment efforts are very aggressive. Over the next three years, we will hire about 5,000 new people. Currently, we are hiring about 17 new people every single day. But we’re balancing our “growth spurt” with the challenges of an ever-changing health care market.
Which brings me to the third thing – our experience with managing growth spurts. You know, it’s not the first time we’ve grown rapidly. Since 1989, we’ve had four major expansions totaling more than $3 billion. And we’ve grown from about 1,400 employees to about 13,000 in that time. So growth is not unfamiliar to us – or as people like to say: “This is not our first rodeo.”
The leadership team we have in place has been here during volatile bear markets and favorable bull markets. We’ve experienced fluctuations in acuity and demanding patient volumes when we’re short staffed. We’ve endured weather events that closed the doors of other hospitals, and we’ve built expansive new facilities a time or two, or three, and we’ve had to recruit aggressively many times.
This has evolved and matured us as a leadership team and as an organization. Our experience has made us smarter and more agile. It’s why we proactively tweak our budget mid-fiscal-year, if necessary, and it’s why we can confidently continue large-scale capital projects.
Most importantly, it’s why I can assure you that we’re in a good place here at Texas Children’s. We make decisions with all of you in mind, and we are constantly balancing the needs of our patients with those of our people, because we know we cannot take care of one without ensuring the support of the other. So, I know the news you hear all around us isn’t always good, but know that we are moving boldly because we’ve been blessed such that we can, and we’ve prepared such that we know how.