The Care Children Deserve: Some Thoughts on the Effort to Open a Children’s Hospital in El Paso, TX

Moorthy, Gyan

El Paso, Texas did not receive a children’s hospital until 2012, much later than would be expected given its demographics and geographic isolation. By that time, there were already nearly 250 children’s hospitals spread across the United States, some in areas far smaller, far older, and in far closer proximity to other urban centers. Without accounting for its substantial population of undocumented immigrants, El Paso is the country’s 22nd largest city (and situated in its 70th most populous county). The nearest American city of comparable size is Phoenix, AZ, located about 350 miles away. Moreover, El Paso has a decidedly young demographic skew: more than 28 percent of the population is under the age of 18, compared to 26.5 percent of the population in Texas and 23.1 percent of the population nationally. This gap is expected to widen in the coming years.

El Paso children also have less access to care than children in cities with comparable populations and population structures. Though the situation has improved in the last decade, El Paso contains several Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) for primary care, dental health, and mental health. This is in addition to many Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) for primary care, specialty care, dental health, and mental health. This means that El Paso children wait longer for their appointments and are often seen by tired and overworked providers. Before the El Paso Children’s Hospital (EPCH) opened its doors if these children needed advanced care, they had to leave the city, and many simply did not have the resources to do so. It is more difficult to assess the quality of the care that they were able to receive locally, as few systematic reviews of pediatric outcomes in the region were conducted during that period. Nevertheless, several El Paso physicians look back and describe an “unacceptably low” standard of care. Regardless, access and quality are interrelated, and children’s hospitals tend to promote both.


  • thumnail for Moorthy_2021_The Care Children Deserve.pdf Moorthy_2021_The Care Children Deserve.pdf application/pdf 182 KB Download File

Also Published In

Voices in Bioethics

More About This Work

Published Here
August 29, 2022


children’s hospitals, immigrants, Healthcare, bioethics, children, primary care, underserved