FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2009
AUSTIN, TX — IAs one of the most historic accomplishments of his career, today Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. gained unanimous approval by the Texas Senate for his bill that will create a medical school in South Texas.
"I am elated, especially after the many years of hard work that we have put into making the dream of a full-fledged medical school a reality," said Sen. Lucio. "Senate Bill 98 spells great success in terms of medical education and expanded health care for the people of South Texas."
SB 98 authorizes the University of Texas System Board of Regents to establish the University of Texas Health Science Center-South Texas consisting of a medical school and other health-related degree programs.
"We have overcome numerous challenges and obstacles that culminated in this monumental feat - our own medical school serving the fast-growing and medically underserved South Texas border region," he added. "I can't thank our South Texas officials and leaders, the medical community and the UT Health Science Center-San Antonio enough for their continued support through the years. And most of all, I commend Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the leadership he has provided in this endeavor and UT System Chancellor Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa for his assistance."
South Texas is ready for a medical school! In less than seven years, UTHSC-San Antonio's Regional Academic Health Center has expanded here to provide clinical rotations for 600 third- and fourth-year medical students, many of whom have remained in the immediate area to practice, and 95 percent of whom have stayed in Texas.
Citing a report by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board declaring that the Valley would be one of the most logical and feasible locations for a new medical school, Sen. Lucio said, "Finally, the state of Texas has responded to our loud cries that it is our turn for a medical school. Coordinating Board Commissioner Raymund A. Paredes, Ph.D. was instrumental in providing expert testimony attesting to the need for a medical school. I also thank my colleagues for their support, as well as the hundreds of business and civic leaders throughout South Texas whose dedication proved invaluable."
Sen. Lucio envisions that the medical school would begin at the Harlingen RAHC, with facilities in any of the eight surrounding counties including Brooks, Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Kenedy, Kleberg, Starr, Willacy and Zapata.
"Although we now await action on the House side, it certainly isn't too early to consider the enormous impact that this bill will have on South Texas," added Sen. Lucio. "For example, we will be able to count on our own local residents to receive a complete medical education without having to leave home in the near future, and hopefully that they will also stay and practice among their South Texas families, neighbors and friends. From this point forward, we can begin to count on a school that will eventually train our own doctors and health care professionals right in our own backyard."