County and state leaders officially opened the new $3.8 million CHRISTUS Spohn Family Health Center Friday in Robstown.

The new outpatient clinic is intended to meet the growing need for indigent healthcare in western Nueces County. The 13,000-square-foot facility replaces the current 6,000-square-foot Robstown Neighbor Care Center at Main Avenue and Fourth Street.

"This is a world-class facility to bring state-of-the-art healthcare to not only Robstown, but to the western part of the county," Nueces County Judge Loyd Neal said Friday.

The new clinic, at 1038 Texas Yes Boulevard, is located just west of the Wells Fargo bank in Robstown at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds.

Architect Ray Torno of SolkaNavaTorno Architects of Corpus Christi said the clinic has a Spanish colonial theme and is an attractive addition to the community and the fairgrounds.

The single-story clinic has a triage area, nine exam rooms, a laboratory, a spacious minor procedures room, a covered drop-off, and an education service room that can hold 50 people, Torno said.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Peggy Banales said she hopes residents in the Annaville and Calallen areas realize the facility is available to them, as well as to the areas surrounding Robstown.

"I want them to know we have a wonderful facility out here and we want them to come and take advantage of it," Banales said.

The new outpatient clinic will not offer emergency room or dental services, instead opting for diabetes services, with dental services centered at the West Side clinic at Greenwood and West Point roads.

Christus Spohn Health System, which will lease the facility from the Nueces County Hospital District for $1 a year, will operate the facility.

Johnny Hipp, chief executive officer of the NCHD, said when the facility broke ground last year that the demand for medical care in the Robstown area had outgrown the current clinic, which opened in early 1993.

The old clinic in Robstown sees about 1,000 outpatients a month, which Hipp said is the highest volume of the six clinics operated by the hospital district in Nueces County.

Hipp said the hospital district anticipates about 1,600 people a month will use the new clinic.

Hipp said the clinic will be open to all Nueces County residents, whether they have medical insurance or not. Patients with insurance will be billed, and the costs of medical services for Nueces Aide patients will be billed to the hospital district.

The $3.8 million project was funded entirely by the Nueces County Hospital District's reserve funds. The clinic's construction costs were actually under-budget from its original projected total of $4.4 million, Hipp said.

The Regional Transportation Authority also constructed a new bus stop in front of the new facility to give residents a better opportunity to seek healthcare. Neal said that type of partnership is what helped make the new clinic a reality.

"This is a perfect example of what can be done when government and private business work together at all levels," Neal said. "The winners in all of this are the citizens.

"It is a fabulous facility and everybody should be proud that the quality of care will be improved."

For Robstown Mayor Pro Tem Elias Vasquez, the project's completion meant the quality of life for the city and the surrounding areas just got better.

"We are very thankful for all the (governmental and private entities) who worked to bring this healthcare center to Robstown," Vasquez said. "It is an awesome facility and well-equipped to serve the needs of the people here in Robstown.

"This is exactly what we needed."