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The Harris Health System, previously the Harris County Hospital District (HCHD), is a governmental entity with taxing authority that owns and operates three hospitals and numerous clinics throughout Harris County, Texas, United States, including the city of Houston. The entity's administrative offices are in Houston.
Harris Health System is an integrated delivery system that provides healthcare services open to all residents of Harris County, Texas. It is the first accredited healthcare institution in Harris County to be designated as an NCQA Medical Home and one of the largest in the country.
The Harris County Hospital District was created by voter referendum in November 1965 and was formally designated as a political subdivision with taxing authority on January 1, 1966. Its creation is largely attributed to the publication of Jan de Hartog's novel The Hospital, which described the horrific conditions of the Jefferson Davis Charity Hospital. The new district replaced an existing city-county system in which the two governmental bodies shared funding responsibility.
A Hospital District is a governmental entity in Texas, established pursuant to the Texas Constitution or the general statutes of Texas, and its purpose is to provide medical care to the needy residents of a particular county.
By 1989, the hospital had exceeded U.S. federal patient mortality rates for two years in a row; Ben Taub and Jefferson Davis were the sole Houston hospitals above their predicted mortality rates. Roger Widmeyer, the district spokesperson, said "We are a very unique hospital because of the number of acutely ill patients we receive. We think the taxpayers understand that we handle a lot of sick people here. A lot of the people we treat don't come to the hospitals until they are very, very sick."
By 1990, when LBJ received an emergency room and Ben Taub received an emergency care facility, the district began to assign county residents to each hospital depending on zip code. Residents of northern areas in the county, including patients treated at Acres Home, Settegast, Bordersville and Baytown clinics were assigned to LBJ. Residents of southern areas, including patients at Casa de Amigos, Martin Luther King, Ripley House, Strawberry Road, and West End county clinics were assigned to Ben Taub.
In January 2012, board members of Harris County Hospital District approved a name change to Harris Health System.  The rebranding became effective in promotion of the system starting September 6, 2012.
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Its two main hospitals serve approximately one million under-insured and uninsured people, nearly a quarter of the entire population of Harris County, the third most-populous county in the United States. Harris County includes Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States. Ben Taub General Hospital is a level I trauma center with 650 licensed beds. It is located in the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world, and is staffed by faculty, residents, and students of Baylor College of Medicine.
Lyndon Baines Johnson General Hospital is a 332 bed general hospital with a level 3 trauma center located northeast of Downtown Houston. It is staffed by the faculty, residents, and students of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Quentin Mease Community Hospital has 25 beds for long-term physical rehabilitation and 24 beds in its geriatric services program. It is staffed by the faculty, residents, and students of Baylor College of Medicine.
In August 2009 Memorial Hermann Hospital announced possible plans to sell its Southwest Hospital in Greater Sharpstown to the Harris County Hospital District, which, if purchased would make the hospital its third general hospital. The county withdrew its bid in September 2009.
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Harris County Hospital District operates 12 Community Health Centers, a dental center, eight School-Based Clinics, 13 homeless shelter clinics and four mobile health clinics. These clinics offer primary care as well as a variety of specialty care such as psychiatry, dentistry, obstetrical/gynecological, podiatry, ophthalmology, pharmacy, psychiatry and counseling, laboratory and x-ray services, HIV/AIDS case management, and a variety of nutrition, health education and social services. Thomas Street Health Center was the first freestanding HIV/AIDS clinic in the United States, and today treats nearly a third of all HIV/AIDS patients in Harris County.
The clinics are staffed by UTHSC-Houston and BCM physicians, as well as countless nurses, clerks, and allied health professionals.
Community-based health care centers include:
Prior to 1991 the county operated a clinic in the Bordersville area of Houston. In 1991 the Lyons Clinic opened and the county closed the Bordersville clinic. The county's Ripley clinic closed as a result of the opening of the Gulfgate clinic in 2000.
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