Why one of America's largest cities has a hospital desert

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While Houston is one of America's largest metro areas and among the nation's "best hospital cities," its East Houston area is a hospital desert, according to Click2Houston.com.

The area has been without a hospital since November 2017, when East Houston Regional Medical Center closed after suffering extensive water damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. The area is also home to one of the highest uninsured populations in Houston's Harris County, Commissioner Adrian Garcia told the news station.

The now-demolished East Houston Regional Medical Center was owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare, which recently sold the land to Harris County for flood detention. HCA hasn't ruled out building a new hospital in the area, but other local health systems, including Memorial Hermann Health System and Houston Methodist, don't have plans to open a hospital in East Houston, according to the report.

East Houston isn't completely without healthcare services. In 2018, HCA opened a freestanding emergency room to help fill gaps in care caused by its hospital's closure. The nine-bed emergency room has since expanded to 22 beds, according to Click2Houston.com. Additionally, Houston-based Baylor College of Medicine has opened two mobile medical clinics in the area.

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