The new UTRGV school system receives grant to establish community healthcare initiative.

The Rio Grande Valley is no doubt headed in the right direction. The near future holds plenty of promise, from the new SpaceX private launch site project to the new UTRGV school system uniting UT campuses in South Texas. Now, more than ever, we are proud to call ourselves Valley natives and are happy to witness the growth of the surrounding region.

The Valley received another wave of good news that is sure to shift the education platform. On January 22nd, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley was awarded a $2.8 million grant for the School of Medicine. This will help establish team-based care in the Valley and aid in the establishment of the Center for Colonia Integrated Care (CCIC) program throughout the next three years. It was awarded by the United Health Foundation, a non-profit private foundation committed to improving healthcare.

According to Francisco Fernandez, the founding dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine, CCIC will function as a team-based model managed by project staff. Their task is to coordinate and provide services like screenings, health and education promotion, health literacy, and dental and mental health care to two separate colonias. The grant will be implemented to cover expenses in infrastructure and staff salary.

To facilitate communication between the colonias and the program, a portion of the grant will also go toward training promotoras, or community-based healthcare workers. Through shared language, culture and ethnic ties, they will serve as a link between community members from the colonias and the new facilities.

RGV Welcomes New Governor

Newly inaugurated Governor Greg Abbott made his first trip to the Valley to help present the grant at Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance. The governor thanked United Health Foundation for their efforts to improve healthcare availability to people living in the colonias, the Valley and the rest of the state. He spoke about the state’s strengths and weakness as well as his hopes to address and improve upon those weaknesses during his term.

“Some of the people who don’t get to benefit from us being ranked number one in jobs are people that suffer from serious health issues and challenges,” he said. “That probably is no truer than what we see in our colonias. To build healthier families in the Rio Grande Valley, we need to expand access to improved healthcare, especially for those that are most at risk.”

Helping Build Healthier Communities                

The United Health Foundation’s “Helping Build Healthier Communities” program awarded the grant as part of their efforts to provide critical resources to nonprofit community-based organizations in the nation. The foundation’s chief executive, Tom Quirk, explained that the program’s goal is to improve the health of U.S. communities. After learning about the UTRGV’s goals in the local community, the United Health Foundation prompted the school system to apply for the grant.

“We noticed that there was a need to have more coordinated care in the Rio Grande Valley,” he said. “What better way than partner with the medical school after learning of its mission and values and what it wanted to accomplish here in the local community.”