288 Life

Page 1

Full Service Hospital. Quality Care. Close to Home. Page 6

November 2019 Volume 1, Issue 2


•Meridiana •Sterling Lakes

•Meridiana •Sterling Lakes


From the Editor


s the Manvel, Iowa Colony and Rosharon areas continue to grow at a rapid pace, one challenge every newspaper that covers the area deals with is how to share news with the new communities. At The Alvin Sun Media, we consider most of the new areas our home turf. We have been reporting on the area as it has grown. We were there when new schools opened, the first homes were finished and high schools representing the area excelled in athletics and more. But delivering newspapers to places like Meridiana and Sterling Lakes every day is just not possible. First, most of the newer neighborhoods don’t want our papers sitting in their driveways every week. Second, it would be expensive and difficult just to keep up with the new homes being added every month. But through 288 Life, we have a chance to reach neighborhoods like Meridiana and Sterling Lakes. We hope you enjoy getting this magazine in your mailbox every month, and we hope you enjoy hearing about the businesses and people who make your communities special. 288 Life has been a work in progress for close to a year. With so many new subdivisions sprouting up along the Highway 288 corridor, one of the biggest challenges was deciding where to start this magazine. Originally, we looked toward Shadow Creek, but as we talked to potential advertisers, we kept repeatedly hearing they wanted to be in Meridiana and Sterling Lakes. So here we are. This is new and we will get better. Our goal is to tell stories about your subdivisions, your homes and your neighbors. We are hoping to reach out to you every month with new stories and new ways to save money. To get to where we want to be, we need your help. You live there and know the people there much more than we do. If you hear of a good story, if you know someone who lives nearby that has excelled in life, let us know. If you run a business and would like to share your story with your neighbors, reach out to us, too. We are excited about the adventure and hope you enjoy going on it with us.


•Meridiana •Sterling Lakes

288 LIFE

Living in Meridiana & Sterling Lakes

EDITOR AND PUBLISHER David Rupkalvis publisher@alvinsun.net

Editorial Writers and Photographers David Rupkalvis Joshua Truksa Stephen Collins Prentice C. James Copy Editor Sheri Saenz Graphic Designer Linda Knight

Advertising Account Executives Brenda Groves ads@alvinsun.net Kobie Lee advertising@alvinsun.net Betty Crawford classifieds@alvinsun.net Office Manager Donna Hopkins Publication brought to you by

570 Dula Street • Alvin, TX 77511 281-331-4421 www.alvinsun.net


14 Cover Photo Pearland Medical Center has a new name — HCA Houston Healthcare — but the same great service and medical care continues in a hospital that can help with almost every medical condition.

6 10 13 17


HCA Houston Healthcare

A new name but the same great service and care seen for many years.

A Sunday Drive

The Children’s Museum of Houston offers hands-on fun.

Honoring ’Bel Sanchez

Dedication ceremony highlights decades of serving the community.

Mental Health

John Cornyn visits the area to talk about muchneeded improvements to mental health.

•Meridiana •Sterling Lakes

18 5


David Wagner, CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare Pearland, joined his staff and community members recently for a ribbon cutting unveiling of the new hospital lobby signage. The new hospital exterior signage will be updated in the near future.

HCA Houston Healthcare Pearland: A Full-Service Hospital Exceeding Patient Expectations By David Rupkalvis

more than a year. Since it opened in early 2015, the hospital has been part of the HCA Gulf Coast Division, which is in the process of re-branding all its Houstonarea hospitals to more closely align with the HCA Healthcare reputation for quality and 50-plus years of healthcare innovation.

Pearland Medical Center has a new name, HCA Houston Healthcare Pearland, and continues to serve residents of Pearland, Manvel, Iowa Colony and other nearby communities like Meridiana and Sterling Lakes with superior patient-centered, compassionate care.

“HCA Healthcare is a leading provider of exceptional medical care in the United States, with a network of care facilities and providers that extends across the country and even into the United Kingdom,” Wagner

David Wagner, CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare Pearland, said the name change has been planned for


•Meridiana •Sterling Lakes

said. “HCA Healthcare’s scale and commitment to clinical research and individualized patient health solutions helps bring world-class doctors and advanced medical knowledge and technology to HCA Houston Healthcare Pearland.”

HCA Houston Healthcare Pearland has more than 250 board-certified physicians on its medical staff and offers inpatient and outpatient services ranging from robotic surgical procedures to joint replacement surgery, neuroscience, trauma emergency care and imaging and lab services. Last year, 25,000 people visited their emergency room. And that number grows every year.

In addition to the extensive HCA Healthcare resources available to the Pearland hospital, Wagner is proud of the quality of care and service his clinical professionals provide. “Our focus is first and foremost on our patients,” he said. “And our commitment to them is apparent in our quality metrics. Of the 180 HCA Healthcare hospitals in the U.S., HCA Houston Healthcare Pearland has ranked in the

Wagner’s commitment to caring for community extends beyond his hospital. He’s a big believer in giving back and sponsors numerous community health, chamber, ISD and other events. Most recently, the hospital participated in the HCA Healthcare “Crush the Crisis” Opioid take back day on Sept. 21. “Along with our HCA Houston Healthcare sister hospitals, we collected and disposed of more than 300 pounds of dangerous opioids,” Wagner said.

“At HCA Houston Healthcare, we have a saying: We Care Like Family. We sincerely mean this and live it

As the Pearland community grows, Wagner is excited about anticipating and meeting its healthcare needs. “At HCA Houston Healthcare, we have a saying: We Care Like Family,” he said. We sincerely mean this and live it every day. Should you need us, we welcome you to our HCA Healthcare family, with a commitment to exceed your expectations.”

every day. Should you need us, we welcome you to our HCA Healthcare family, with a commitment to exceed your expectations.” David Wagner CEO, HCA Houston Healthcare Pearland

To learn more about HCA Houston Healthcare Pearland or to find a doctor, visit HCAhoustonhealthcare.com/pearland or call 855.245.8325.

top decile for quality of care and service.”

Accomplishments & Accreditations

In addition, the hospital operates Pearland’s first 24/7 heart catheterization lab. Wagner explains, “This is important so that when a patient arrives at our emergency department with symptoms of a heart attack, a board-certified physician and cardiac team is on-site to care for that patient almost immediately in the cath lab. This can mean the difference between life and death when minutes matter.” The cath lab is an important component of the hospital’s Chest Pain Center accreditation by the American College of Cardiology.

• Accreditation by The Joint Commission • American College of Radiology Accreditation – Computed Tomography (CT) – Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – 3-D Mammography – Ultrasound – Nuclear Medicine • American College of Cardiology Accreditation

HCA Houston Healthcare Pearland is also a designated Primary Stroke Center by the American Stroke Association. “Patients who come to our hospital with stroke symptoms can be given the clot-busting drug tPA, which helps restore blood flow to the brain and potentially prevent permanent damage.”

– Chest Pain Center • American Stroke Association Designation – Primary Stroke Center

•Meridiana •Sterling Lakes


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J Ryan’s Bistro

Fine dining in Alvin in a casual environment is the best way to describe J Ryan’s Bistro, located at 2370 W. Hwy. 6. Since it opened in October the restaurant has earned great reviews and a loyal customer following that is growing every day. At J Ryan’s Bistro, all items are made from scratch and can be flavor enhanced with rich creamy sauces such as Gorgonzola cheese Alfredo sauce or Tuscan mushroom and butter cream sauce. They offer tender juicy steaks, chicken fried steaks and thick delicious hamburgers. Maybe you’re in the mood for Chicken Marsala with hearty Marsala wine and mushroom sauce or tickle your taste buds with Chicken Piccata or good ol’ Chicken Fried Chicken. If you’re fishing for seafood, J Ryan’s Bistro reels in the best shrimp and fish dishes from their catfish Pontchartrain and grilled ahi tuna steak to shrimp brochette, sautéed shrimp along with traditional fried. Even the kids will eat their veggies the way J Ryan’s Bistro serves them up bursting with flavor. Enjoy your fill of unique appetizers like the bruschetta sampler or perhaps the crab cakes or boneless wings are more your style. Order up deli-delicious sandwiches or choose from a variety of salads. But be sure to save room for dessert! Homemade cheesecakes, pies and tarts are always in season here. They can also accommodate Gluten free diets. So for fine dining and excellent service in a family friendly environment visit J Ryan’s Bistro today.

Em’s Seafood Kitchen

When you own six shrimp boats right here on the Gulf Coast, the next logical step would be to open your own seafood restaurant. This is how Em’s Seafood Kitchen came to be. Nancy Duong and her family opened the restaurant in February of this year and named the business in honor of her grandmother “Em.” Em’s Seafood Kitchen is already known for their unique Viet-Cajun crawfish with their signature Vietnamese twist. Besides fresh shrimp, Em’s boast delicious fish, Blue Crab, Boudin balls, gumbo, oysters, calamari and wonderful hand-made eggs rolls. A local flavor favorite is the variety of crab dishes featuring salted Cajun crab and Tamarind Crab. They also serve chicken dishes, hot wings and crisp cold salads. Of course you’ll want all the fix-en’s along with these wonderful dishes so they offer sweet potato fries and hush puppies on the menu as well. Nancy expanded that the staff are courteous and keep the restaurant in ship shape for your dining pleasure.

Greak’s Smokehouse

For tasty treats, folks know to visit Greak’s. Greak’s Smokehouse that is, located right down the road on Froberg’s Farm in Alvin. The minute you step out of your vehicle, you are greeted with the aroma of homemade sausages smoking to perfection. A newly remodeled store offers a large pathway to view their various meats, cheeses and jerkies as well. Greak’s is known for homemade boudin and chicken salad with smoked chicken. You might as well sample their brisket, ribs and whole chickens while your there. Greak’s Smokehouse is family owned and operated by Ray Greak along with his daughter Kristian and son Brandon. For the holidays, they offer delicious smoked hams and turkeys, so get your order in today. Greak’s also welcomes deer hunters and is well known for their deer and hog processing services. So let you nose be your guide, take a step back in time and stop by Greak’s Smokehouse today. You will be greeted with friendly service and lots of smiles. It’s a family tradition.

Froberg’s Farm

Froberg’s Farm and Country Store has become a household name to the residents of Alvin, Manvel and the surrounding areas. In fact, people from all over the state, nation and world have made the pilgrimage for strawberry picking season, where families can pick their own deliciously sweet strawberries. Four generations of Frobergs have cultivated the concept of seed, time and harvest, and the end result is a place where any one can experience home-grown vegetables and fruits. Their farm has grown to include farm-raised chickens with no hormones or antibiotics. The Froberg’s store now includes a full-time bakery and snack bar with homemade pies, candies, cookies, cake balls, kettle corn, tamales, jellies, preserves and much more. Over the years, they have created a family-friendly environment, which includes a large safe play area called Berry Fun Land, a Mining Sluice, Bee Coaster, Duck Races, Friendly Fire and Corn Cannon. Year round events include “Winter Fest,” “Strawberry Picking,” “Blackberry Picking,” and “Fall Festival.” Now’s the season to order your own pies and confectionary goodies to compliment your holiday table. Let Froberg’s Farm do the baking for you, just relax and enjoy. Make gift giving unique and a memorable experience with Froberg’s Gift Baskets of assorted sizes. Visit frobergsfarm.com for event days/times and weather permitting.

•Meridiana •Sterling Lakes



Children’s Museum of Houston

At the Children’s Museum of Houston, there are many hands-on activities to entertain and educate children.


inding stories to write every month for A Sunday Drive has taken my family and I to some really neat places in the Gulf Coast Region. But to be honest, most of them have been places I wanted to go and the kiddos got dragged along. They had fun, but more often than not, it wasn’t their top choice. So this month, I decided to let them choose. And their choice was a good one — the Children’s Museum of Houston. Designed for children of all ages, the children’s museum is a hands-on experience that makes it fun to learn. And fun it was. From the moment you walk in the doors, the experience is almost overwhelming. Every inch of the museum is filled with things for children to do,


Photos and story by David Rupkalvis

touch and experience. While there are specific exhibits, they flow together easily and everyone has a similar theme — get children involved with their hands and their heads. Within five minutes of walking in my children were dressed as doctors or scientists and were conducting experiments on a variety of different things. They climbed and pulled and touched and drew. And that was just in the first room. As we moved on, it just kept going. There were things to ride, more experiments and a never-ending supply of fun things to touch and do. Outside, the fun continued, but with water. Technically, they were supposed to be learning about flowing water and how moving water

•Meridiana •Sterling Lakes

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•Meridiana •Sterling Lakes


impacts different things. But for the little ones, it was just a chance to play in the water while watching different things flow down a little river. It was hot outside — real hot — but you would have never known it watching my kids. They probably could have stayed outside all day if my wife and I hadn’t dragged them back inside. But don’t worry. Waiting inside in the air conditioning was Kidtropolis, where a city was waiting to be explored. One of the highlights of Kidtropolis is children can get jobs where they get paid and add their new money to their own bank card. Whether one wants to make drinks at a café, bag groceries at HEB, work as a veterinarian or drive an ambulance, there are jobs for everyone. And before we moved on, my little ones might have tried each one. And they banked some serious

cash in the process. After hours of playing and laughing and without even knowing it, learning, mom and dad were wiped out. But even as we tried to drag them away, my son saw something he hadn’t done yet — the Challenge Course. The Challenge Course is a rope course where kids can climb and maneuver and work their way around the course while mom and dad watch from below. More and more fun. When we finally left, the kids were exhausted. It was hard just keeping them awake on the drive home. But they were ready for more. The Children’s Museum of Houston was a great way to spend the afternoon, and we didn’t even see the whole thing. If you have children, especially younger than teens, give it a shot. It’s reasonably priced and an easy drive from Meridiana or Sterling Lakes.

Hands-on activities are around every corner at the children’s museum.

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In honor of ’Bel

‘Bel Nafegar Sanchez Elementary Principal, Rosemary Reed (left) presented ‘Bel Sanchez with the portrait of her that will be displayed in the school named after Sanchez.


ozens of community leaders, coworkers, friends and family of ‘Bel Sanchez packed the auditorium at the new ‘Bel Nafegar Sanchez Elementary in October for the dedication of the school named in Sanchez’ honor. Those who attended included friends of the well-known community leader who drove from Brownsville for the event. Everyone believed Sanchez is a most deserving recipient


Photos and story by Joshua Truksa

of the honor of a namesake school. “I was not surprised at all,” Texas State Rep. Ed Thompson said of when he learned of the naming of the school. “She truly deserves to be recognized by the district. She’s done a lot – she’s done a lot, you know, for the diverse communities of this district, which is very varied in some cases. You know, they – they might not have an advocate, but ‘Bel is always an advo-

cate.” Fellow ACC Board of Regents board member Mike Pyburn echoed Thompson on the flawlessness of Sanchez as the chosen namesake for the school. “’Bel has been a tireless worker for the district and the community and couldn’t think of a better way to honor her,” Pyburn said. Sanchez gave a speech about some of the activities she has done in the commu-

•Meridiana •Sterling Lakes

nity that led others to deem her worthy of having a school with her name on it. She said she had no regrets of continuing to work hard 58 years after she first started working at the age of 12. “I am so blessed because that is the legacy my parents gave me – work hard, hard, hard; don’t expect anything from anyone. You earn it, you do it, you’ll get it, and thank God, that’s what happened in my life,” Sanchez said.

‘Bel Sanchez was joined by generations of her family at the dedication ceremony of ‘Bel Sanchez Elementary School.

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in/Ma v l A f o Best 2019


A lifetime of service

Former mayor Michael Holton (left) said longtime city secretary Geraldine Frank was a welcome fixture at Iowa Colony City Hall.

Photos and story by Joshua Truksa


eraldine Frank was honored by the City of Iowa Colony on Sept. 26 for her 38 years of service as city secretary. Geraldine Frank became a fixture as city secretary after starting in 1981, seeing the city grow from less than 600 residents in the early 1980s to just over 2,000 by 2019 estimates. Everyone who has worked with Frank said she knows the answers to any historical questions one could ever ask about Iowa Colony. “She’s one who I go to whenever I need to know any history about the city,” Mayor Michael Byrum-Bratsen said.

•Meridiana •Sterling Lakes

Robert Wall, who was mayor of Iowa Colony for 16 years, said there was never a complaint about Frank’s service in all his time as mayor, and for 14 years of his tenure as mayor, Frank ran city hall by herself. The job she once had has since been divided into separate jobs for three individuals. When it was former mayor Mike Holton’s turn to speak, he embraced Frank and said she was the first thing he remembers from when he first became a city councilman. “You got to love her, because everything she did would be right sooner or later,” Holton joked.



Working together to make a difference

Sen. John Cornyn met with local leaders and policy experts to review progresses made in Galveston County’s efforts of improving mental healthcare in the community and its relationship to the criminal justice system.


en. John Cornyn arrived at the Galveston County Justice Center last month for a roundtable talk with local leaders and policy experts to discuss how federal mental health initiatives spearheaded by him could help Galveston County facilitate mental healthcare and meet its goals in service availability. Included in the discussion were Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, Senior Fellow for Justice Policy at Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute Dr. Tony Fabelo, Galveston County Commissioner and Chair of the County and Judicial Criminal Justice Coordinating Advisory Council Stephen Holmes, Senior


Presiding Judge for the 405th District Court and Designated Judge of the Galveston County Mental Health Court Judge Wayne Mallia, Commander of the Mental Health Division of the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office Jaime Castro and Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale. Cornyn has been active in pushing for legislation in mental health care long before the mass shooting tragedies of Santa Fe High School and the El Paso Walmart, introducing the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act in 2015 and authoring the 21st Century Cures Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2016. Cornyn said that during the

past few years he has realized that the United States has “lost the safety net for people in mental health crises.” “Some of our laws make it very difficult to get access to mental health. For example, if you have somebody in your family whose an adult, it’s almost impossible to get them to comply with the doctor’s orders if they say, ‘I don’t want to,’” Cornyn said. Cornyn said mental health has become a “chronic and pervasive challenge for our country” and the government must facilitate alternatives to the current situation of many individuals suffering from mental illness being held in jail for lack of adequate resources for their care.

•Meridiana •Sterling Lakes

Photos and story by Joshua Truksa

Henry said devising a way to handle issues of mental illness in court is a major challenge faced by every county and parish in the country. Henry said it was important that mental illness be talked about, treated like any other illness and steps taken to mitigate the possibilities of those suffering from mental illness being held in jail. “I, along with every other county jail in the United States, run the worst mental healthcare facility that you could possibly run. We’d be on 60 Minutes if we weren’t the county government for running a terrible operation,” Henry said, adding that Galveston County faces the common problem of short-

ages in mental health care providers and bed space. Holmes, chairman of the Judicial Criminal Justice Coordinating Advisory Council, said the county has “streamlined and organized [its] jail screening process” in relation to mental health. Mallia, who accepted the task from Henry to create a mental health court in Galveston County, said support for the project has been overwhelming, with the commissioners’ court giving its approval unanimously. The mental health court will handle certain cases involving individuals suffering from bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. Current plans are for the mental health court to begin operation in January or February of next year. Cornyn commended Mallia and Henry on the creation of the new court. “I used to be a little skeptical of specialty courts, but not anymore. I mean, we have veteran’s courts, we have drug courts, we have

mental health courts, and I think that’s because our that what — the issues that we have to deal with are a lot more complex than they used to be in the — maybe in the old days where all you needed judges to do was, you know, bang down a gavel and make a decision,” Cornyn said. Castro said the county has made progress in the past on mental health despite the significant road ahead, with the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office having one of the first mental health divisions in the state of Texas and a successful program of training officers to handle situations involving individuals suffering from mental illness. “We have a very good intake — very good intake. We have people who respond to the crisis and everything else but the services that come after that are not in place,” Castro said. Lack of in-county services for mental health patients is a problem shared by both Galveston and Brazoria counties. Despite both counties having populations of over

“I used to be a little skeptical of specialty courts, but not anymore. I mean, we have veteran’s courts, we have drug courts, we have mental health courts, and I think that’s because our-that what — the issues that we have to deal with are a lot more complex than they used to be in the — maybe in the old days where all you needed judges to do was, you know, bang down a gavel and make a decision.” John Cornyn U.S. Senator 300,000 and being home to cities of over 100,000, neither county has an inpatient healthcare facility or drop-off point where patients can then be transported by a shuttle service. All individuals suffering from mental illness encountered by law enforcement officials in these two counties must be transported by county personnel to facilities in Houston. One of our biggest challenges is that we have no inpatient beds in Galveston County,” Castro said. Hale agreed with Castro that the distance to any proper facilities was a major challenge for law enforcement within the county when a person is determined to be a danger to themselves or others. He said many subjects suffering from mental illness

“I, along with every other county jail in the United States, run the worst mental healthcare facility that you could possibly run. We’d be on 60 Minutes if we weren’t the county government for running a terrible operation.” Mark Henry Galveston County judge

•Meridiana •Sterling Lakes

encountered by law enforcement in Galveston are taken to jail to ensure they are given their proper medication and the opportunity to see a mental health professional. “The closest hospital I can go to is 50 miles away,” Hale said. Galveston County is currently in its second year of a justice system modernization project that began after a system assessment in 2017. An infographic created for Friday’s meeting said improvements that can be made immediately are the creation of the mental health court, severely mentally ill individuals being released on personal bonds for services at a mental health authority, assisted outpatient treatment and an enhanced pretrial department.


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