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UTRGV School of Medicine receives $1M grant from Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas

Linda Nelson, senior director of Clinical Operations for UTRGV, and Dr. Eron Manusov, founding chair of the UTRGV School of Medicine’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, are spearheading the university’s initiative to provide services for high-risk, triply diagnosed youths through special, collaborative programs like the one at the John Austin Peña Memorial Center in Edinburg. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

By Melissa Vasquez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – DEC. 16, 2015 – This holiday season, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine received an early gift – a $1,065,510 grant from the Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas Inc., for its Integrated Care Collaborative Unit (ICCU).

The grant will support UTRGV School of Medicine in providing and enhancing integrated care to improve the mental health outcomes of high-risk, high-acuity children and adolescents in the Valley.

“This is an important and very generous grant for the School of Medicine, and we are extremely grateful to Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas for their ongoing support,” said Dr. Francisco Fernandez, inaugural dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine.

“Our goal is to create a collaborative network in the Valley community that will address the needs of our at-risk youths and improve their quality of life. This grant will help us develop that goal, especially through our program at the John Austin Peña Memorial Center.”

The grant will fund services for 300 clients and 1,200 visits. With the grant, ICCU aims to:

  • Advance access to treatment for adolescents with substance abuse/appetitive drive disorders, psychiatric illness and health concerns.
  • Promote inclusion and integration of behavioral medicine to the scope of primary care.
  • Improve access to dental services.
  • Improve collaboration and integration of scarce specialty resources.
  • Improve outreach to build community capacity for complex, high-risk, triply-diagnosed adolescents.

Linda S. Nelson, senior director of Clinical Operations for UTRGV, said the grant begins Jan. 1, 2016, and runs through Dec. 31, 2016. It serves the Hidalgo County area.

The School of Medicine currently is partnered with the Hidalgo County Health Department in operating the community-driven Peña Center, which provides integrated care for adolescents 12-18 years of age who are triply diagnosed. The center, under the direction of Nelson and Dr. Eron Manusov, is located at 3341 E. Richardson Road in Edinburg.

The care offered at the clinic is centered on an interprofessional, team-care model that allows patients to interact with various professionals in the fields of emotional and mental health, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers and others. The clinic provides care for teens who are at risk with medical, mental health (behavioral issues, ADHD, anger management), and appetitive drive disorders (appetite for alcohol, drugs, tobacco, etc.).

Manusov, founding chair of the UTRGV SOM’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, said the grant will help the School of Medicine focus on a very high-need population – adolescents with a medical illness, a mental illness and an appetitive drive disorder such as substance abuse.

“Part of our mission is to change how healthcare is delivered. Our team-based approach to medicine is about the quality of services, not about the quantity, and that takes collaboration and coordination.”

About Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc.

Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. is a private, faith-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing medical, dental and health-related human services to low-income families and the uninsured in South Texas. The mission of the organization is "Serving Humanity to Honor God" by improving the physical, mental and spiritual health of those least served in the Rio Texas Conference area of The United Methodist Church. The mission also includes MHM’s one-half ownership of the Methodist Healthcare System, the largest healthcare system in South Texas, which creates a unique avenue to ensure that it continues to be a benefit to the community by providing quality care to all and charitable care when needed. For more information, visit

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