Featured from left: Christi Cantú, Director, Area Health Education Center, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine; Yolanda Chapa, Chief Administrator, Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García; Hidalgo County Precinct 4 Commissioner-Elect Ellie Torres; Alicia Rodríguez, Executive Director San Carlos Community Resource Center; Hidalgo County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios; Linda Nelson, DNP, Senior Director of Clinical Operations, UTRGV School of Medicine; John Ronnau, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Community Health Partnerships, UTRGV School of Medicine and Director, AHEC Program; Shawn Saladin, Professor/Associate Dean, School of Rehabilitation Services and Counseling, UTRGV; Michael A. Patriarca, Executive Vice Dean for Finance and Administration, UTRGV; Verónica Gonzáles, Vice President for Governmental and Community Relations, UTRGV; and Eddie Olivarez, Health Director, Hidalgo County. On Wednesday, November 14, 2018, these area leaders participated in the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine’s grand opening of its Area Health Education Center (AHEC) in San Carlos, in Hidalgo County. UTRGV School of Medicine received a five-year, $3.75 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration to develop the three AHECs, which will offer free health care to residents and educational opportunities for students enrolled in UTRGV’s health professions programs.
Photograph By PAUL CHOUY
UT System regents increase physical size and financial investment to create $13.7 million UTRGV School of Medicine Team Based Learning Center in Edinburg, announces Rep. Canales
A 26,652 gross square foot extension of the $54 million, 88,260 gross-square-foot Medical Education Building at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine campus in Edinburg has been approved by the UT System Board of Regents, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has announced.
The project, valued at $13.7 million and scheduled to be substantially completed by March 2020, will provide additional teaching space to help the UTRGV School of Medicine meet its expected enrollment growth, the House District 40 state lawmaker said.
UTRGV and its School of Medicine have major campuses in the heart of Canales’ House District 40.
“UT System leaders report that existing classrooms, offices, and study spaces at the Medical Education Building are currently at full capacity,” Canales noted. “This new $13.7 million facility, known as the UTRGV School of Medicine Team Based Learning Center, is needed to handle current and expected growth in our medical school in Edinburg while maintaining the mission of the school as a catalyst for education in health care.”
In several other related developments, which took place during the Wednesday, November 14, and Thursday, November 15, 2018, UT System regents meeting on the campus of UT-Dallas took the following actions:
• UT Rio Grande Valley was given preliminary approval to create an Occupational Therapy Doctorate and notify the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board of its intention. The proposed OTD program would prepare graduates who can demonstrate professional autonomy, increase practice-based scholarship and research, and allow increased focus on primary care, interprofessional care teams, and specialization in practice;
• UT Rio Grande Valley was authorized to negotiate for the purchase of a building in McAllen, owned by Óscar Sotelo, MD, for future programmed expansion, including clinical and educational use by the UTRGV School of Medicine. The 7,426 square-foot vacant, one-story shelled office building on approximately 0.75 acres is located at 7012 North 10th Street, about four miles from the Edinburg campus; and
• Subhash Bose, Professor, College of Engineering and Computer Science, Kenneth L. Beckman, Professor in the College of Liberal Arts, and Jerry Polinard, Professor in the College of Liberal Arts, were designated as Professor Emeritus. In general, “Professor Emeritus” is a mark of distinguished service, awarded to only a few on retirement.
UT SYSTEM REGENTS INCREASED CONSTRUCTION FUNDING, SIZE OF FACILITY
The UTRGV School of Medicine Team Based Learning Center was initially designated as the UT Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine Classroom and Office Building when UT System regents in late February 2018 first publicly considered the project. Since then, however, the name changed to the UTRGV School of Medicine Team Based Learning Center.
“It’s a new name, it’s a good name, but even more important, the UT System has decided to make it more than 2,600 gross square feet larger than before, and invest an additional $1.5 million into this state-of-the-art building,” Canales said. “This speaks so highly of the importance of our School of Medicine campus in Edinburg, and it reflects very positively on the outstanding students, staff and faculty who continue to bring great honor upon themselves and the Valley with their excellence and dedication to this most honorably and needed profession.”
During the 2013 regular session of the Texas Legislature, Canales was a House cosponsor of Senate Bill 24, whose main author was Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, with Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, serving as the main House sponsor. SB 24 merged the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg and the University of Texas at Brownsville into UTRGV, and created the UTRGV School of Medicine.
SB 24 also allows UTRGV and its School of Medicine access to the Permanent University Fund, a source of money for the UT System and Texas A&M System – valued at about $19 billion – that is used to help pay for new buildings.
According to the executive summary provided by the UT System regents and the public:
The Chancellor concurs in the recommendation of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the Executive Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs, and the institutional president that the UT System Board of Regents approve the recommendations for the School of Medicine Team Based Learning Center project at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley as follows:
Amend the current Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to increase the total project cost from $12,200,000 to $13,700,000;
Approve design development plans; and
Appropriate funds and authorize expenditure of $13,700,000 from Permanent University Fund (PUF) Bond Proceeds.
On November 19, 2017, the Chancellor approved this project for Definition Phase in the amount of $12,200,000.
On December 6, 2012, the Board approved $100 million over the next 10 years of unspecified resources to be used for start-up costs for the School of Medicine. To date, the Board has fulfilled this commitment through multiple appropriations of PUF Bond Proceeds totaling $50 million.
On February 6, 2014, the Board authorized construction of the South Texas Medical Academic Building (STMAB) with funding of $54,000,000 from PUF Bond Proceeds.
On October 2, 2017, the Chancellor approved a transfer of $5,002,268 of unspent PUF Bond Proceeds from the STMAB project to this proposed project.
On August 20, 2015, the Board approved $10,000,000 in PUF Bond Proceeds to be used in support of eligible capital expenses associated with the start-up of the Medical School, of which $7,197,732 will be transferred to this proposed project.
On February 27, 2018, the project was included in the CIP with a total project cost of $12,200,000 with funding from PUF Bond Proceeds.
The proposed project will be an extension of the existing Medical Education Building (formerly the South Texas Medical Academic Building) located on the Edinburg Campus. This facility is necessary to accommodate current and expected growth in the School of Medicine (SOM) while maintaining the mission of the school as a catalyst for education in health care.
The building will house faculty and administrative offices, small group study spaces for the growing medical student population, flexible and general-purpose classrooms, conference rooms, and support spaces.
The facility will provide additional teaching space to help the SOM meet its expected enrollment growth.
Existing classrooms, offices, and study spaces are currently at full capacity. The design will feature flexible classrooms with modern technology needed to provide the educational experience mandated for accreditation by The Joint Commission. This facility will continue to support innovative pedagogies including problem-based instruction and critical thinking exercises.
The new building will strengthen and expand the distance learning program. This facility will allow the institution to efficiently and effectively serve the needs of the South Texas medical students. The request for increase in the total project cost is due to the SOM’s continued growth and subsequent need for additional square footage and to provide additional offices and work areas to support the academic programs.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY DOCTORATE
The Chancellor concurs in the recommendation of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the institutional president that the UT System Board of Regents approved:
• Preliminary authority for UT Rio Grande Valley to create an Occupational Therapy Doctorate; and
• Notification of the proposal to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
UT Rio Grande Valley requests preliminary authority to amass the resources needed to offer an Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD).
The proposed OTD program would prepare graduates who can demonstrate professional autonomy, increase practice-based scholarship and research, and allow increased focus on primary care, interprofessional care teams, and specialization in practice.
The institution currently offers a master’s degree in occupational therapy and has graduated 43 students since 2015 (the year UT Rio Grande Valley was established). The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) has mandated that the entry-level degree requirement for occupational therapists will move to the doctoral level by July 1, 2027.
Only doctoral-level occupational therapy programs will be eligible to receive or maintain ACOTE accreditation as of July 2027.
Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2026 the number of occupational therapist jobs will increase by 24% (from 130,400 to 161,400).
In Texas, the number of jobs is expected to increase by 34 percent, going from 8,170 to 10,920.
At Texas public institutions of higher education, there are eight master’s programs and three doctoral programs. Since 2014, approximately 300 master’s degrees and 10 doctoral degrees have been awarded annually by public universities and public health-related institutions in Texas.
Once preliminary authority has been approved, UT Rio Grande Valley will submit the full degree program proposal for approval by the UT System Board of Regents and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
UTRGV SCHOOL OF MEDICINE HOSTS THIRD GRAND OPENING FOR AREA HEALTH EDUCATION CENTERS
The UTRGV School of Medicine celebrated the opening of its third Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Wednesday, November 14, 2018 in San Carlos in Hidalgo County.
The AHECs support the School of Medicine’s mission to close gaps in access to healthcare and expand educational opportunities for its students.
The School of Medicine last year received a five-year, $3.75 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration to develop the three AHECS, which are intended to:
• Help increase access to primary healthcare in rural and underserved areas;
• Develop and enhance education and training networks within communities, academic institutions and community-based organizations; and
• Teach medical students and students in other health-related disciplines about the social determinants of health and health disparities.
The School of Medicine previously hosted grand opening ceremonies for its AHECs at the La Victoria community in Starr County and at the Bob Clark Social Service Center in Cameron County.
“This is an excellent example of the School of Medicine working in partnership with our counties to increase access to healthcare and to improve the lives and health in our communities,” said Linda Nelson, DNP, Senior Director of Clinical Operations for UTRGV School of Medicine. “It is through initiatives such as the AHEC programs that availability of services in the Valley are increased.”
John Ronnau, PhD, Senior Associate dean for Community Health Partnerships at the UTRGV School of Medicine and Director of the AHEC program, said the AHEC grant provides a tremendous opportunity for the UTRGV School of Medicine to be of service and engaged in communities that are rural and have underserved populations.
“It’s integral to our mission and it is in keeping with what the federal government, what HRSA expects of us with this grant,” Ronnau said. “This grant is the perfect opportunity to meet the needs of these communities, but it wouldn’t happen without the partnerships between the School of Medicine and the three counties, and that’s the beauty of it.”
The AHECs include primary healthcare centers operated by professional healthcare staff, faculty and students of the UTRGV School of Medicine, School of Nursing and College of Health Professions.
The School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Social Work and College of Health Professions are developing curriculum for students that will include offering credit for their work in the clinic, and will develop a pipeline program through which high school students interested in healthcare-related fields can receive training.
The three AHEC facilities are being developed in partnership with the three counties and the County Commissioner in each precinct where the AHEC is located.
“Working with such an exemplary institution such as UTRGV has been a blessing to the families of Precinct 4,” said Hidalgo County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios. “Through our partnership, many families now will have the benefits of healthcare at their reach. With this initiative, students from the UTRGV School of Medicine will also see firsthand the tremendous support their services provide. This experience will allow for them to pursue their degree with the knowledge of their potentials.”
The center, located at 230 N. 86th St. in San Carlos, will operate one to two days a week, with plans to expand services to five days a week over the next few years.
TWO UTRGV SCHOOL OF MEDICINE FACULTY – DR. ARDEN DINGLE AND DR. ANDREW DENTINO – APPOINTED TO UT SYSTEM’S SHINE ACADEMY
Dr. Arden Dingle and Dr. Andrew Dentino from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine have been selected to serve on The University of Texas System Kenneth I. Shine, M.D., Academy of Health Science Education.
The announcement by UTRGV School of Medicine officials was made on Thursday, November 29, 2018.
The UT System Academy of Health Science Education was founded in 2005 and renamed in 2013 in honor of Dr. Kenneth I. Shine upon his retirement as the system’s executive vice chancellor of Health Affairs.
The academy’s mission is to support and promote “excellence in all aspects of health science education, educational scholarship and leadership,” according to the academy’s bylaws. New members are selected annually from UT System’s health institutions.
Dingle serves as a Professor of Psychiatry and Program eirector of the Psychiatry Residency Program at the UTRGV School of Medicine. She earned her medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and completed her residency and fellowship training from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, New York. She is board certified in Pediatrics, General Psychiatry, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Prior to joining UTRGV in September 2015, Dingle served at UT Health San Antonio, Emory University School of Medicine and the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dentino joined UTRGV in 2017 and currently serves as Assistant Vice President for the university’s Division of Health Affairs, as well as Associate Dean for Interprofessional Education, Professor and Chair for the Department of Internal Medicine in the School of Medicine, and Interim Chair of the UTRGV Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology.
He is board certified in internal medicine, general psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry. He also is fellowship-trained in geriatric medicine and completed his training in internal medicine and psychiatry from West Virginia University.
“Selection to the Shine Academy is a prestigious honor and recognizes the excellent contributions to medical education made by Drs. Dingle and Dentino,” said Dr. John H. Krouse, Dean of the School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs at UTRGV. “I am proud of their continued leadership at UTRGV.”
For more information, visit http://www.uth.tmc.edu/ShineAcademy/index.html.
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.
UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.
Jennifer Berghom contributed to this article. Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, represents House District 40 in Hidalgo County, which includes portions or all of Edinburg, Elsa, Faysville, La Blanca, Linn, Lópezville, McAllen, Pharr and Weslaco. He may be reached a his House District Office in Edinburg at (956) 383-0860 or at the Capital at (512) 463-0426. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories which affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature.