FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 5, 2000
AUSTIN, TX-- State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, and State Rep. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, today announced their plan to sponsor an appropriations request of $11 million during the upcoming 77th legislative session that would expand the South Texas Center for Rural Public Health branch campus in McAllen. The announcement was made at 1:30 p.m. at a press conference held at the Texas State Bank Building in McAllen.
"I certainly look forward to working with Rep. Hinojosa, who will sponsor the measure in the House, to ensure that we secure this funding that would provide for the construction and equipping of a $4.5 million permanent facility on five acres of donated land," said Sen. Lucio. "I cannot think of a better financial boost for improving the delivery of health care and expanding health care educational opportunities for the people of the Valley."
The McAllen program is part of the Texas A&M University Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health at College Station. The funding request was recommended to Sen. Lucio, chairman of the Senate Committee on Border Affairs, by Mr. Glen Roney, chairman of Texas State Bank and Mr. Wayne Showers, vice chairman emeritus, Texas A&M University system. The findings were presented to the Committee by Dr. Ramiro Casso and Mr. Ron Tupper, director of the South Texas Center, McAllen Mayor Leo Montalvo, Hidalgo County Judge Eloy Pulido, Mr. Morris Atlas and others on the 15-member committee who had previously voted unanimously to promote this academic program.
"The Valley Delegation continues to work together to improve health services to the residents of the Rio Grande Valley," said Rep. Hinojosa, Senior House Member of the Valley Delegation. "Health care is not a luxury, but a necessity for a healthy family to enjoy a good quality of life."
The facility would be adjacent to and its staff would work closely with the Community Oriented Public Health Clinic facility, recently dedicated by Sen. Lucio, Rep. Hinojosa and Dr. Demetria Montgomery, associate commissioner, Texas Department of Health. Also to be included in the "Public Health Complex" is the new four story South Texas Community College allied Health Facility, scheduled to open this fall
The Complex, located in the hospital district, would provide graduate level education classes for a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree concentrating on Community Public Health. Enrollment of MPH students at the McAllen temporary campus is 15 for this fall and expected to increase to a target group of 20 to 25 students. The Center began offering the MPH degree via distance learning from the School of Rural Public Health in College Station since January 2000.
In addition to construction of the new facility, the legislative funding would provide for the recruitment of nationally recognized faculty researchers and educators and to house community based research programs. The Center will focus on disease prevention and health education, as well as outreach screening and referral to local providers and clinics through a state-of-the-art mobile health van serving colonias and rural communities. The facility will also house a library, telehealth technology and a conference space for regional seminars and training.