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Kyle, Texas | Economic Development

Prognosis: Kyle medical space due for more growth in 2015

 Buda resident Daniel Busby sat in an Austin Cancer Centers examination room in early January after shedding more than 30 pounds during the course of his treatment for Stage 4 cancer. But his months-long radiation therapy was winding down with only a week’s worth of sessions to go, and the tumor that had spread from his throat to his lymph node was gone.

The Lockhart ISD math teacher’s doctors at Kyle’s Austin Regional Clinic helped him survey his options with regard to treatment when he was diagnosed Oct. 30. He was referred to Austin Cancer Centers, which is only one I-35 exit away from his home, he said. Prior to hearing about the Kyle location, he suspected he might have to commute to Houston, perhaps even relocate his family of six to receive treatment, he said.

“It’s a blessing that it’s that close,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine traveling that far.”

Much has changed in Kyle since summer 2007 when H-E-B opened, the first traffic light in the city was switched on and ground broke on Seton Medical Center Hays, the city’s first hospital.

Only one family practitioner was present in the entire city then, according to city officials.

Seton Hays opened in Kyle in October 2009. Since then the amount of medical square footage in the city has more than doubled, according to city officials. In 2010, 400,000 square feet of medical facilities existed in the city, and Seton Hays accounted for most of that. Now there is more than 800,000 square feet, with Seton Hays representing about 30 percent of that figure, said Diana Blank-Torres, executive director of Kyle Economic Development, which is a city of Kyle department.

“We are actually getting more interest and more applications for permitting pretty much on a weekly basis for new medical office buildings, urgent care, surgery centers and those kinds of things.” Blank-Torres said.

She said she expects the growth rate to continue in the future, with more services to be added to the city’s medical sector in 2015.

An Austin Radiological Association clinic will anchor a new medical development on Benner Road, near the entrance of Kyle’s Plum Creek Golf Course. The clinic will open in the spring along with a new dental office. Corridor Primary Care, which offers pediatric care in San Marcos, will also open in the new development.

Also, DaVita Kidney Care, which offers dialysis service, will open soon at 1250 Dacy Lane, and a new urgent care center is coming soon on the southbound I-35 frontage road near Target.

Austin Cancer Centers opened in October on the Seton Hays campus. In just a few months of being open, the cancer treatment facility can already boast of success stories such as Busby’s, Catenya McHenry, a spokeswoman for the center, said.

“[Growth of the city’s medical services] is not only great for people who don’t have to drive anymore, but it’s great for people to get care in their own community, which is really fantastic for healing,” McHenry said.

Growth

Since 2000 the city has grown from a population of less than 6,000 to more than 31,000, per the 2013 U.S. Census estimate. If the city continues on this tilt, demographers estimate it will have more than 85,000 people living in it by 2032.

Growth is what drew Seton Healthcare Family to the area in the first place, said Neal Kelley, vice president and chief operating officer of Seton Hays. Although development in Kyle had been stagnating after the recession hit in the late 2000s, it has surged in the past year, affecting a particular section of the I-35 corridor near Kyle, Kelley said.

In a rapidly growing community, a medical center’s capacity issues can begin to arise. Kelley said, however, that Seton Hays is well positioned to adapt to the increasing demand. The medical center is seeing more than 100 visits a day compared to about 75 visits daily two years ago, Kelley said.

Kelley said the hospital is evaluating whether to expand at an “ongoing” basis. The medical center has three patient floors built out. A fourth is being used as storage space but could be converted to a patient floor in the next few years, he said.

“As it stands we are experiencing capacity issues, especially during high-peak seasons,” he said. “[Throughout 2014] we have been running out of enough rooms to take patients in from the emergency room to various areas.”

Departments that may see expansion in the future include maternal services, the intensive care unit and the emergency room. And because the medical center is not landlocked, the ability to construct new facilities is an option, Kelley said.

“When it comes time to grow, we can smartly grow,” he said.

Full-service community

This is the environment city officials say they have been trying to create in Kyle: a full-service community in which one can work, get medical treatment, entertain oneself and take care of his or her needs within the confines of the city.

Blank-Torres said the city’s focus as of late has been on trying to create local jobs. According to Blank-Torres, roughly 80 percent of Kyle residents leave the city to go to work.

“We’re just not content with that,” she said. “Our goal and our challenge is to create jobs within Kyle [so] that those people [who] are currently leaving could have the option of staying in Kyle on wages that could support their families.”

On the other hand, many of the people who have the 2,000 non-physician healthcare jobs that have been created in Kyle since 2007 do not live in Kyle, Blank-Torres said. They commute to the city largely because it lacks residential neighborhoods with homes priced in the high $200,000s and above, she said.

In less than 10 years, the city has gone from one lacking basic medical services to having facilities to take one from the cradle to the grave, city spokesman Jerry Hendrix said.

“Now you can be born here, you can have just about every service you would need during the course of your lifetime and you can be laid to rest here,” Hendrix said. “It’s remarkable.”  

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