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Edinburg City Council approves plan to partner with Health Sciences Institute at Renaissance and the Texas Workforce Commission to increase advanced education in two medical professions - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Featured: Edinburg City Councilmember Johnny García, on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, at  H-E-B Park, participated in the Mass Drive-Through Emergency Pantry 2 sponsored by the Food Bank RGV. This distribution enabled the Food Bank RGV to distribute up to eight times more food than a regular drive-thru food bank distribution.

Photograph Courtesy CITY OF EDINBURG

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Edinburg City Council approves plan to partner with Health Sciences Institute at Renaissance and the Texas Workforce Commission to increase advanced education in two medical professions

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
[email protected]/a>

The Edinburg City Council on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, approved a plan to partner with Health Sciences Institute at Renaissance and the Texas Workforce Commission to increase advanced education in two medical professions – Diagnostic Medical Sonography and Medical Assistant.

On a 4-0 vote, with Mayor Richard Molina excused on important business, the city council agreed to invest $24,100, which will be in addition to up to $117,000.00 from the Texas Workforce Commission, for the High Demand Training Program, which will be under the direction of the Health Sciences Institute at Renaissance.

The Health Sciences Institute at Renaissance is part of DHR Health.

The program will pay for most of the costs for qualified applicants from Edinburg, who will “benefit by training and learning at DHR Health’s world-class facilities. Students receive hands-on training in real-world environment that will best prepare them for their careers,” according to the written presentation provided in the city council’s agenda packet for that evening’s city council session.

Students from outside of Edinburg also are eligible to apply for the High Demand Training Program, although those non-Edinburg residents will not qualify for financial help from that city.

In a related health care development affecting the Rio Grande Valley, Gov. Greg Abbott – also on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 – announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will provide free COVID-19 testing in Edinburg as part of the federal government’s surge testing efforts in hot spots throughout the country. 

This new site will offer 5,000 tests per day and will be operational Wednesday, July 8th through Tuesday, July 14, 2020 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.. This surge testing site is made possible through a collaboration with the State of Texas, HHS, Hidalgo County, and the City of Edinburg.

The location of the surge testing site is the city-owned Bert Ogden Arena, located at 4900 South I-69C. 

Texans are encouraged to pre-register for testing by visiting http://www.DoINeedaCOVID19test.com/

“I am pleased Gov. Abbott is responding quickly to the surge in COVID-19 cases in the Rio Grande Valley and is sending critical testing to our community. Our local officials and hospital staff have been working tirelessly to address the increase in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations,” said Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen. “We can only stop the spread of this disease by identifying who is infected and keeping them from infecting others. This action by the governor to provide additional testing is the kind of cooperation and response we need to help reverse the outbreak we are experiencing.c

Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, also expressed his appreciation for the governor’s action.

“As the Rio Grande Valley continues to shoulder the brunt of the alarmingly expanding coronavirus outbreak, we are all thankful that our state and federal agencies are acting on our outcry for help by providing surge response in free COVID-19 testing that is necessary to protect the families and residents we represent,“ said Lucio.

City Manager Ron Garza, in his recommendation to the mayor and city council on the High Demand Job Training Grant, explained that the funds “will create the opportunity for the City of Edinburg to directly contribute to the strong demand for certified and credentialed professionals for employment opportunities within Edinburg’s numerous hospitals and medical/health facilities. The City of Edinburg is committed to serving the employer community and positively impacting the local economy.”

The city council’s action also was influenced by the recommendation of the Board of Directors for the recently-created Edinburg Economic Development Department, which is the successor to the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.

The Edinburg EDD’s seven-member governing board, whose members are appointed by the mayor and four city councilmembers, is comprised of, in alphabetical order: Daniel Antonio Díaz; Roland Gómez; Verónica Gonzáles; Hiren Govind; Sabrina Walker Hernández; Raúl Reséndez; and Aaron (Ronny) Rivera.

Also according to the city manager’s detailed report on the High Demand Job Training Program:

• Texas Workforce Solutions desires to collaborate with the Edinburg Economic Development (Department) to provide high demand occupational job training. This partnership combines local economic development sales taxes with Workforce Solutions Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds for high demand job training. For this Program, high demand job training means supporting employment opportunities in high demand jobs in the Health and Allied Fields in Edinburg.

Texas Workforce Solutions is comprised of the Texas Workforce Commission and a statewide network of 28 Workforce Development Boards for regional planning and service delivery, their contracted service providers and community partners, and the TWC unemployment benefits Tele-Centers. This network gives customers local access to workforce solutions and statewide services at numerous Workforce Solutions offices and five Tele-Centers.

https://www.twc.texas.gov/about-texas-workforce#texasWorkforceSolutions/a>

• To achieve this purpose, this grant enables the (Edinburg EDD) Board to dedicate and expend funds when local economic development sales tax funds contribute to jointly support such training. The funding from the Edinburg EDD will be for tuition for people living within the City of Edinburg.

For its part, The Health Sciences Institute at Renaissance (HSIR) highlighted some of the advantages to the city leadership and its students being served by DHR Health and HSIR through the High Demand Training Program:

• DHR Health is dedicated to the community and its leadership is excited to partner with the Edinburg Economic Development Department (EDDC) and Texas Workforce Solutions (TWS) to provide career opportunities to adults living or working in the City of Edinburg. 

• The Health Sciences Institute at Renaissance (HSIR) certificate programs are adult-learning post secondary programs geared towards working adults looking to enter the medical field and create a pathway for professional advancement. Upon completion of program, graduates are eligible to sit for certification and have the opportunity to seek employment throughout the Rio Grande Valley at any healthcare system, doctor’s office, clinic, outpatient facility, etc., including at DHR. Program open to any adult meeting eligibility requirements. 

• The Health Sciences Institute at Renaissance (HSIR) programs are cost effective in relation to other two-year institutions. Other institutes charge a baseline tuition and upon enrollment disclose additional fees and supplies associated with a particular program. The HSIR costs for each program includes tuition, fees and supplies, excluding book costs. The HSIR cost for each program is less than other two-year colleges and other proprietary schools. 

• The Health Sciences Institute at Renaissance  students benefit by training and learning at DHR Health’s world-class facilities. Students receive hands-on training in real-world environment that will best prepare them for their careers. 

Top Two Certificate Programs in Demand 

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers operate ultrasound machines to produce dynamic images of tissues, organs and blood flow inside the body. They work closely with physicians (radiologists) who specialize  interpreting medical images to diagnose disease or injuries Diagnostic medical sonographers work in a variety of inpatient and outpatient clinic settings. 

The length of the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program is 64 weeks/1,168 hours, over a maximum of six semesters. Tuition cost for the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at DHR is $7,631 per student. 

A maximum of six students is the enrollment limit for the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at DHR Health. General admission requisites are High School Diploma or a Graduate Equivalency Degree, 18 years of age, Basic Life Support certification, medical malpractice insurance, and a two-year allied health associate degree. 

The average hourly pay for a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer is $34.90 and the average annual salary is $72,592. 

Medical Assistants assists patients in doctor’s offices, clinics, outpatient centers, and hospitals. A Medical Assistant is mainly focuses on building close relationships with patients, updating medical records, a variety of front office and administrative duties, perform routine medical tasks, arrange for laboratory and imaging tests, and assisting with medical tasks. 

The length of Medical Assistant Certificate Program at DHR Health is 48 weeks/643 hours, over three semesters. Tuition cost for the Medical Assistant Certification Program at DHR Health is $4,995 per student. A total of 20 students is the enrollment limit for the Medical Assistant Certification Program at DHR Health. General admission requisites are High School Diploma or a Graduate Equivalency Degree, 18 years of age, Basic Life Support certification, and medical malpractice insurance. 

The average hourly pay for a Medical Assistant is $12.07 and the average annual salary is $25,110. 

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.

GOV. ABBOTT, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES, DISTRIBUTE ADDITIONAL CASES OF ANTIVIRAL DRUG REMDESIVIR ACROSS TEXAS

Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday, July 4, 2020 announced that the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is distributing 448 cases of the antiviral drug remdesivir to 157 hospitals across Texas. 

These cases have been provided to DSHS through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is the sixth round of distribution from the federal government. At 448 cases, this is the largest distribution and is enough to treat approximately 1,792 patients. This brings the state total to 1,425 cases distributed since May 12, 2020.

“As Texas faces an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we remain committed to providing healthcare professionals with the resources they need to respond to this surge and support COVID-19 patients,” said Abbott. “The State of Texas is grateful to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for their continued assistance to equip Texas hospitals with Remdesivir. As we continue to combat the virus, Texas remains committed to keeping our communities healthy and safe.”

Remdesivir has shown promise in early trials in speeding up the recovery time among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Using a five-day average of hospitalization data, DSHS used county weighting of the number of COVID positive patients in hospitals to determine the number of remdesivir cases per county. Children’s hospitals are eligible this round due to the powder formulation of the medication.

Medical staff at each hospital will determine how the drug will be used, though it must be prescribed in accordance with the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization, allowing for the treatment of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalized with severe disease, such as those in intensive care. 

Preliminary results from a clinical trial showed the average recovery time among patients who received remdesivir was 11 days versus 15 days with a placebo. The supply is part of a donation from drug maker Gilead.

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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).

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