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UTRGV, United Health Foundation unveil Unimóvil mobile clinic

The UTRGV School of Medicine and United Health Foundation today unveiled the “Unimóvil” medical mobile health clinic, during a ceremony outside the Medical Education Building on the Edinburg Campus. The mobile clinic is part of a three-year, $2.88 million grant the UTRGV School of Medicine received from UHF to establish the Center for Colonia Integrated Care Program: VIDAS and bring increased access to underserved communities in the Rio Grande Valley. (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)

By Jennifer L. Berghom

EDINBURG, TEXASJULY 14, 2016— The UTRGV School of Medicine and United Health Foundation (UHF) unveiled the “Unimóvil” medical mobile health clinic today, during an unveiling ceremony outside the Medical Education Building on the Edinburg Campus.

The mobile health clinic is part of a three-year, $2.88 million grant the UTRGV School of Medicine received from United Health Foundation in January 2015 to establish the Center for Colonia Integrated Care Program: VIDAS (Valley Interprofessional Development and Services).

The initiative aims to unite the region by building an integrated, interprofessional collaborative that will create a sustainable model for healthcare delivery to the most vulnerable members of the community.  

Dr. Francisco Fernandez, School of Medicine professor of psychiatry, neurology and neurosciences, applied for the grant two years ago to provide another opportunity for medical students, medical residents and students in the College of Health Affairs to train and serve the Valley community.

“They will able to be part of an initiative to provide everything from health screenings to needs assessments, to determine the best healthcare possible we could bring to the community,” he said.

The grant also allows the School of Medicine to bring healthcare to underserved areas in a one-stop shop, he said.

“This grant is bringing healthcare into the community and making sure that we close the gaps and increase healthcare access, particularly in underserved communities,” Fernandez said.

“This is just another step in the unbelievably powerful journey of UTRGV in the Valley.”

At the unveiling ceremony, university and medical school officials, as well as government dignitaries and a health promoter from a local colonia, praised the arrival of what they called a “doctor’s office on wheels,” saying that it will close the gaps in healthcare access for Hispanic patients.

State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (District 27) said the Unimóvil initiative will deliver critical healthcare services to colonia residents who often do not have access to transportation and other resources.

“Mobile clinics like the one we will get to tour today are an exciting new development, especially for colonia residents and others in economic distress,” Lucio said. “By bringing services directly to those who need it most, Unimóvil can overcome barriers to access and help address medical problems at the root, before they become life-threatening.

“I am confident that this initiative, which is just one of many UTRGV is rolling out in the Valley, will provide a robust continuum of care that will lead to big gains in healthcare access in our region,” Lucio said.

The School of Medicine also received a resolution from Texas Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra (District 41) congratulating the school for securing the grant to bring healthcare to an underserved region.

The resolution concludes: “RESOLVED, That the launching of the new Colonia Integrated Care Program mobile clinic be commemorated and that all those associated with the worthy endeavor be extended sincere best wishes for continued success.”

Don Langer, CEO, United Healthcare Community Plan of Texas, called the UHF partnership with UTRGV and the School of Medicine a perfect match.

“Together, we are going to make these communities healthier,” Langer said.

School of Medicine faculty, medical residents and other UTRGV-affiliated healthcare providers will operate the 45-foot-long clinic, which includes two examination rooms, a laboratory, restroom, and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment.

Unimóvil is expected to provide services to up to 4,500 Rio Grande Valley residents annually.

Another component of the grant is to train community health promoters, commonly known as promotores, in partnership with the Texas A&M School of Public Health, who will serve as liaisons between their neighborhoods and the healthcare community.

Jesus “Jesse” Delgado was one of the first graduates of the promotores certification program. Delgado, who plans to pursue a career in medicine, said Unimóvil will provide much-needed care to colonia residents.

“My role in the community is to advocate for the community members, the colonia members, to get better healthcare,” he said. “This mobile clinic is going to be a huge blessing for my community – and not only my community, but Cameron Park and anywhere else it can park.”

For more information about Unimóvil’s scheduled visits, call (956) 296-1700 or email UniMovil@utrgv.edu.

PHOTO GALLERY OF THE UNVEILING

TAKE A VIRTUAL TOUR OF UNIMÓVIL

MEDIA CONTACTS

Jennifer.Berghom@UTRGV.edu

UTRGV Senior Writer / 956-665-7192

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu

UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications 956-665-2742