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Harris County
News Release
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Harris County Officials Say Generous Donation Will Help Restore Badly Needed Health Care to Third Ward, Surrounding Area

The State of Qatar has donated $2.5 million from its Qatar Harvey Fund to Harris County to assist in the county’s Riverside Hospital Project, which will help restore badly needed medical and mental health care to the Third Ward community after Hurricane Harvey.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Qatari ambassador to the United States, signed a letter of commitment during a ceremony at the Riverside Hospital site this morning. They were joined by state Rep. Garnet Coleman and county Commissioner Rodney Ellis.

The $2.5 million gift is part of a larger $30 million gift from the State of Qatar to assist the long-term recovery of victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, which also includes gifts of $5 million to the Rebuild Texas fund and $2.5 million to the City of Houston. The Qatar Harvey Fund is similar to the Qatar Katrina Fund, which provided $100 million in grants for assistance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“The Qatar Harvey Fund is proud to partner with Harris County on the Riverside Hospital Project,” said Al-Thani. “From its very beginning, the fund’s goal has been to support long-term rebuilding efforts for families and communities most affected by Hurricane Harvey. This redevelopment and expansion will both restore a historic neighborhood institution and provide the Third Ward with much needed health services - a critical need for enduring recovery."

Riverside General Hospital opened in 1926 as “The Houston Negro Hospital,” the first nonprofit hospital for black patients and a workplace for black doctors who were not allowed to admit patients to the “black wards” of the area’s other racially segregated hospitals. The site still boasts the Houston Negro Hospital Nursing School, the first of its kind for black nurses in Harris County. The hospital, which changed its name to Riverside General in 1961, closed in 2015 after significant financial and legal troubles. Harris County hopes to reopen the four-acre site as a full-service clinic with a strong behavioral health component by 2021.

“Hurricane Harvey damaged our region in incalculable ways, including our health care facilities,” said Emmett. “This generous gift from our friends in Qatar will help restore some badly needed health care facilities to the area.”

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