The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

UTRGV School of Medicine

"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy New Year to UTRGV and to all our friends!

It’s time to celebrate and chart our course for 2017. So much is happening at the UTRGV School of Medicine as we prepare for the arrival of our charter class of medical students.

For many, though, the activity is not about celebration. The Rio Grande Valley is one of the most underserved areas in the country, and health disparities abound. We have high rates of diabetes, obesity, alcohol consumption, cancer, vascular disease, and STDs including HIV/HCV and more.

We are in an area where education, stress and access to healthcare are factors that negatively influence the distribution of resources, wealth and power, generating health inequities in our community. That is why at UTRGV, we want to team up with everyone in the community to eliminate disparities in healthcare.

A year ago, we were working with the Department of Health and the College of Health Affairs to come together to help address existing disparities, and we focused on adolescents. Our work led to the award of $500,000 from Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas to create a clinic for triply-diagnosed youths – those who are at risk with medical, mental health (behavioral issues, ADHD, anger management)) and appetite drive disorders (alcohol, drugs, tobacco, etc.).

This helped amalgamate a number of entities to assure systematic change. And it began at what we call “Peña” – the John Austin Peña Memorial Center in Edinburg:

A year later, we are at another milestone for Peña. Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas has awarded an additional $1 million to expand our work with triply diagnosed adolescents at the clinic. And what a difference this will make!

Since January 2015, our team has participated in the local and surrounding counties, doing community health needs assessments and health fairs.

These and other activities have been instrumental in helping us understand and implement strategies and programs, as we target populations in need for specific outcomes. With feedback from the community, our outreach programs will help transform the Valley’s most at-risk, previously underserved neighborhoods into more vital and healthier places to live. 

Healthy children are a must for academic achievement, and they are part of a broader approach to community wellness. With this MHM grant, we will be able to support a wider range of opportunities for health and wellness. We already offer GED classes at Peña, and now we can expand opportunities and foster a healthy economy in the areas served by the UTRGV interprofessional team. That lifts up the community as a whole. 

What if some of our patients get certified as promotores, professional trainers, tele-health techs, and more? All of this is transformative and contributes to becoming community assets in the Valley. 

The School of Medicine remains deeply committed to you and the community we serve. 

We will ….

  • Enhance well-being.
  • Enhance recreational alternatives.
  • Enhance health.
  • Enhance healthy living.
  • Enhance employment.
  • Enhance economic development.

We do all this because, as Dr. King reminds us, “Life’s most urgent question is: What are we doing for others?”