Featured: Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, participates in a salute to nurses at DHR Health in Edinburg on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, as part of National Nurses Week to raise awareness of the important roles nurses play in society.
Photograph Courtesy DHR HEALTH
Sen. Hinojosa and Sen. Lucio to headline live broadcast on COVID 19 on Wednesday, July 1, from Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance
Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, will be joined by leaders with the region’s largest hospital systems and one of the top officials with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and its School of Medicine for a live broadcast on the Internet to update South Texans on the latest legislative and medical news dealing with COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley.
In addition to Hinojosa and Lucio, the event, which will be conducted as a panel discussion, will include Carlos Cárdenas, MD, Chair, Board of Managers, DHR Health, Lance Ames, CEO, Edinburg Regional Medical Center and Edinburg Children’s Hospital, Cris Rivera, CEO, Rio Grande Regional Hospital in McAllen, and John H. Krouse, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Dean, UTRGV School of Medicine.
Former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, Vice President for Governmental and Community Relations for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, will serve as the moderator for the event, which is part of the quarterly Public Affairs Livestream of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce.
Bert Ogden Auto Group is sponsoring the scheduled 90-minute Public Affairs Livestream, which begins at 10 a.m., to be broadcast from the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance.
The 54,000-square foot Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance – which is owned and operated by DHR Health – has hosted several hundred events in its hometown over the past dozen years, serving as one of deep South Texas’ premier state-of-the-art venues for a wide range of gatherings for people from all walks of life.
However, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, only the participants and the news media will be allowed into the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance for the Public Affairs Livestream in order to protect the public health.
Instead, individuals may view the live broadcast of the Public Affairs Livestream at:
The videotaped version also will be online at the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce website:
and also on its Facebook:
“We are pleased to have policy makers and healthcare professionals explore how we can prioritize healthcare policies to create a stronger healthcare,” said Ronnie Larralde, Executive Director, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce.
The panelists also will provide key measures that businesses can use to reduce the risk of transmission, outbreak preparedness and combating misinformation.
“We thought it is an important community service to keep everyone updated on health system preparedness and state commitment to our health during this pandemic,” said Mario Lizcano, Health Administrator of Corporate Affairs, DHR Health, and Vice President of Public Affairs, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce.
Rep. Canales: COVID-19 “is real and it is getting worse in our community.”
In a related development, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, on Wednesday, June 23, 2020, expressed his deep concern about the 743 percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Rio Grande Valley when comparing figures for Friday, May 22, 2020 with Monday, June 22, 2020.
“I know that people are tired of hearing about COVID-19. I am tired of it myself. When I post about it, I get a lot of criticism in the comments, people telling me that this virus is exaggerated or fake. But, we have to keep talking about COVID-19 because it is real and it is getting worse in our community,” Canales said. “Our region of the state has seen the highest hospitalization rate increase of any area in Texas. My staff has verified this data and it is accurate and true.”
On Friday, May 22, 2020, there were 30 patients who were in Valley hospitals because of COVID-19.
On Monday, June 22, 2020, there were 253 patients who were in Valley hospitals because of COVID-19.
“Please wear masks, socially distance, wash your hands, and try to stay home,” said Canales, one of the top leaders in the Texas House of Representatives in his role as Chair, House Committee on Transportation. “I know that this virus has been over-politicized. I know that there is a lot of misinformation out there. But, I hope that you will listen when I say we can not go back to business-as-normal right now. Prepare, prevent but don’t panic.”
More than 2,500 residents in Hidalgo County have tested positive for COVID-19
The latest statistics on COVID-19 for Hidalgo County were unsettling, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortéz said on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, which was the most recent recording-setting day for the Valley’s most populous county. On that day, 373 individuals learned they have tested positive for COVID-19, and another four people died from complications of the virus.
This brings the overall death toll to 29 people and the overall number of known positive cases to a total of 2,503 in Hidalgo County.
Other key data from the Wednesday, June 24, 2020 announcement by the county judge include:
• On Wednesday, June 24, 2020, there are 1,666 net active cases;
• A total of 47 people were released from isolation on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, meaning that they have been symptom-free for 10 days, including three days without a fever;
• On Wednesday, June 24, 2020, 185 people were in area hospitals; 19 of those cases are being treated in intensive care units; and
• As of Wednesday, June 24, 2020, there were 2,217 test results pending out of a total of 36,767 COVID-19 tests administered.
“We’ve had some very high numbers of infections and new fatalities,” Cortéz said. “We can’t allow this to continue. We have to take every precaution necessary to protect the health and well-being of our citizens. The reports that we’re getting are that the reasons for these infections are all the activities in Hidalgo County and the lack of the willingness to take all necessary precautions.”
Iván Meléndez, MD, Hidalgo County Local Health Authority, said the new COVID 19 “infections are coming from other family members. We are seeing a lot of families getting infected.
“The capacity of the Coronavirus to effect a person is dramatically higher than the regular flu,” Meléndez added.
DHR Health highlights key efforts to battle COVID-19
Anchored in southwest Edinburg, with a growing presence in neighboring McAllen, DHR Health offers some of the most comprehensive medical care on the U.S. southern border, with more than 1,400 nurses and 600+ physicians providing care in 70+ specialties and sub-specialties.
DHR Health is the flagship teaching hospital for the UTRGV School of Medicine and encompasses a general acute hospital with the only dedicated women’s hospital South of San Antonio, a rehabilitation hospital, a behavioral hospital, more than 70 clinics Valley-wide, advanced cancer services, the only transplant program in the Rio Grande Valley – and the only functioning 24/7 Level 1 Trauma Center south of San Antonio.
DHR Health is headquartered on a 130-acre site, with most of the facilities in southwest Edinburg but with a growing South Campus immediately across Owassa Road in northwest McAllen.
As part of its public affairs campaign to let Valley residents know what DHR Health is doing on their behalf, the hospital system has been providing constant medical updates and recommendations through its Facebook page and through print and broadcast advertising.
In DHR Health’s most recent television advertising, which is ongoing, on its responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Valley, the following views of its leadership and staff are featured:
At DHR Health, caring for our patients and employees is our top priority. That’s why we’ve committed all of the vast resources of DHR Health’s medical campus, its 740 doctors, 5,500 employees, and over 70 satellite clinics in a coordinated effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
At DHR Health, our team has always provided the highest possible standards of care and safety in absolutely every aspect of our health care system. However, COVID-19 presents some unique challenges. So when the first warning signs appeared showing that COVID-19 would affect our area, we immediately activated our response plan.
We opened the DHR Health Serious Infectious Disease Unit. This is a fully-equipped, fully-staffed facility designed to care for patients with COVID-19. Our approach is to house the DHR Health Serious Infectious Disease Unit off-site, in a stand-alone building, to keep our general patient and staff population safe. By having a dedicated facility focused only on treatment and containment of infectious diseases, we’re able to manage the prevention of exposure to our patients visiting our facility. This adds an additional layer of safety and protection to both patients and our medical team.
We’ve also opened a second emergency room. Our DHR Health Emergency Room Extension, where at-risk patients are triaged in a separate emergency room facility focused only on patients with COVID-19 symptoms. We were the first hospital in the area to offer rapid testing. This is due to DHR Health’s investment in having the most advanced testing lab in the region. Every patient that is having a medical procedure at DHR Health is tested for COVID-19. This includes testing patients who were admitted for surgeries, procedures, other elective cases, and deliveries at our Women’s Hospital.
When it comes to personal protection, throughout our campus, we’ve placed measures to create a secure and safe facility. We have a limited visitor policy in place. And we’re screening everyone prior to entering our facilities, including every employee on every shift at DHR Health.
DHR Health has always had an innovative spirit to address the shortage of personal protective equipment.
DHR Health has its own manufacturing facility making personal protection gear for our staff and our community. We’re also manufacturing needed ventilator screens and ventilator components.
Our main campus is connect to over 70 DHR Health clinics located from Brownsville to Laredo. To serve such a wide area, we’ve launched one of the most advanced telemedicine networks in South Texas, giving patients direct access to our expansive health team.
There is a worldwide effort to find an effective treatment, and ultimately a vaccine, for the virus that causes COVID-19. DHR Health Institute for Research and Development is currently involved in an innovative study, using convalescent plasma, which contains antibodies to treat patients with COVID-19 infections.
Despite COVID-19, DHR Health is still a community hospital filled with hope. We’re still mending broken bones, fighting cancer, and training bodies to move again. We’re performing life-saving transplants. We’re keeping hearts in motion, and every hour, we’re still reliving new life. We know that together, we’ll get through this.
DHR Health. For You. For Life.
The television advertisement is available online at:
Nayeli Zenteno and Misti Palacios contributed to this article. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).