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UT Health Science Center San Antonio announces $846,530 in new funding for health care in the Rio Grande Valley

RGV health

McALLEN, Texas – May 6, 2015 – The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio was one of seven organizations announced by Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas Inc. (MHM) to take part in Sí Texas: Social Innovation for a Healthy South Texas.

As a sub-grantee, the UT Health Science Center San Antonio will receive $846,530 over two years, with a match possibility that could bring the total to $1,693,060.

The money is part of a $13 million investment made by MHM to support innovative models addressing the health care concerns of South Texas.

The grant will fund primary care behavior health services through the Family Health Center, 2821 Michelangelo Drive, in Edinburg. While the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio applied for the grant and is initially receiving the funding, this program will be transitioned to The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley as of Sept. 1, 2015.

Sí Texas is a project powered by the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund (SIF) to support proven approaches to addressing critical social issues.

MHM’s investment is made possible by a grant in 2014 from SIF to help strengthen the channel of state and local governments and service providers to implement Sí Texas: Social Innovation for a Healthy South Texas.

One of seven organizations serving the Rio Grande Valley, the UT Health Science Center San Antonio/UTRGV project was introduced as part of the inaugural cohort of sub-grantees of Texas — a five-year project intended to stimulate improvements in behavioral health and chronic disease in South Texas.

Carlos R. Jaén, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, said, “This project continues our tradition of support for the health care of the community. We’ve been present in South Texas for more than 30 years through the Family Medicine Residency Program in McAllen.

“This grant from Methodist Healthcare Ministries provides another step in our long-lasting collaboration and partnership within the Rio Grande Valley for the benefit of these patients and communities.”

Francisco Fernandez, M.D., founding dean of the School of Medicine at the UT Rio Grande Valley, said UTRGV and its School of Medicine are pleased to share in this collaboration with six other organizations focusing their efforts on improving the health of the citizens of the Rio Grande Valley.

 “What the Si Texas Project plans to achieve aligns perfectly with the mission of our university and School of Medicine, which is to connect science with the community and improve health care in the Valley,” he said. “I can’t think of a more strategic way to utilize these funds for the benefit of this historically medically underserved area. We are grateful for this very generous grant.”

The health care program created by this grant will replicate the successful Primary Care Behavioral Health model championed by Drs. Kirk Strosahl and Patricia Robinson of Mountainview Consulting Group. In partnership with them, Deepu George, Ph.D., project director and assistant clinical professor of family and community medicine with the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, and his team will implement both onsite and offsite training to help both programs improve their abilities to offer integrated behavioral health care to local residents. 

The purpose of the grant is three-fold: to provide a model for best practices; to increase access to care; and to, by implementing an integrated behavioral health model, prepare young physicians to think about the health care of tomorrow as an integrated, inter-professional endeavor. 

After an open, competitive application process, the inaugural cohort of sub-grantees received awards ranging from $250,000 to $2 million. The sub-grants are intended to amplify existing, integrated behavioral health models that will develop proven methodology to carry services to communities with high rates of poverty, depression, diabetes, obesity and associated risk factors.

“We are thrilled these seven organizations emerged as the trail blazers that will help test strategies that prove to be the most effective, as evidenced by an evaluation of their models, to address these health issues,” said MHM President & CEO Kevin C. Moriarty.

“As a grant maker and direct service provider in this region, we are grateful to the Social Innovation Fund, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, for recognizing that the best way to encourage innovation and to learn what truly works to solve a problem is to invest in it through organizations that know the communities and the populations they serve.”

The Sí Texas Project, through its sub-grantees, will attempt to build an intricate network of cross-sector partnerships that will lead region-wide improvements in those conditions. 

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

About The Corporation for National and Community Service

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service and champions community solutions through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 13 percent of academic institutions receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 31,000 graduates. The $787.7 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit

Media Contacts:

Catherine Duncan, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 210-567-2570  

Marci Caltabiano Ponce, UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications

Jennifer McGehee-Valdez, UTRGV Director of Public Relations

Letty Fernandez, UTRGV Director of Media Relations