Featured: Ernie Aliseda, Legal Counsel for DHR Health, and a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, Judge Advocate General Corps – where he served as an Army trial judge – stands at attention during the Presentation of Colors on Wednesday, November 11, 2020, in honor of Veterans Day. The celebration, hosted by DHR Health at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance, 118 Paseo Del Prado, in Edinburg, paid tribute to employees and patients at DHR Health who are veterans of the U.S. military.
Photograph Courtesy DHR HEALTH FACEBOOK
DHR Health plan for $76.8 million expansion in Edinburg, which would create and retain 500 employees, praised by EEDC Board of Directors
A plan by DHR Health for a $76.8 million expansion in Edinburg, which would create and retain 500 employees, has been praised by the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) Board of Directors, and now goes before the Edinburg City Council on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, to inform the public and secure state legislative support.
As part of its expansion proposal – which would not cost the city any money – DHR Health is asking the five-member city council, which includes the mayor, for approval of a resolution for designating Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, LTD, as an enterprise project under the Texas Enterprise Zone Act.
The growth by the hospital system is part of the city council’s regular meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Edinburg City Hall, located at 415 West University Drive.
However, due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the city will observe all restrictions in place regarding room capacity and crowd sizes for its upcoming public session.
Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, when he was a state representative, and Sen. Hector Uribe, D-Brownsville, in 1983 introduced and passed the state legislation that created the Texas Enterprise Zone Act.
It is the purpose of the Texas Enterprise Zone Act to establish a process that clearly identifies distressed areas and provides incentives by both local and state governments to induce private investment in those areas by the provision of tax incentives and retention of high-quality job.
“Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (DHR) has requested an Enterprise Project nomination from the City of Edinburg,” Blanca Davila, Director, Edinburg Economic Development Department, stated in her executive summary, published in the city council’s agenda packet, which is posted online. “This designation would make DHR eligible to receive state sales and use tax refunds on qualified expenditures based on DHR’s planned capital investment and job creation and retention.”
This economic development tool allows local communities to partner with the state of Texas to encourage job creation and capital investment in economically distressed areas. Local communities can nominate a new or expanding business as an “enterprise project”. Approved projects are eligible to apply for state sales and use tax refunds on qualified expenditures. The level and amount of refund depend on the capital investment and jobs created at the qualified business site.
DHR Health has a positive effect on the city’s economic well-being, she further noted.
The hospital system “currently employs approximately 5,366 people with an annual payroll of $372 million,” Davila reported.
“The EDC Board approved a letter of support for enterprise project nomination for DHR at its meeting on (Tuesday), October 27, 2020, by a vote of 6-0,” Davila recalled. “Staff recommends approval designation. The city and EDC are working with the Office of the Governor Economic Development and DHR (Health) to ensure all requirements are met.”
The EDC Board of Directors oversees, reviews, and acts on major economic development proposals and related items prepared by the Edinburg Economic Development Department and publicly presented during regular and special meetings of the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, which are broadcast live in Edinburg on Spectrum Cable 1300, and also televised live – with the videotaped recordings also maintained – on the city’s website at:
The Edinburg City Council has the final say on the recommendations of the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, each of who are appointed by a majority vote of the five-member city council.
In alphabetical order, with their emails and business affiliations included, are the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors:
• Verónica Gonzáles
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, Ltd (“DHR”) and its general partner, RGV Med, Inc. (“RGV Med”) own and operate a 519 licensed bed general acute care hospital with over 60 specialties and subspecialties located at 5501 South McColl in Edinburg. The facility is one of the largest physician-owned facilities in the United States that began as an ambulatory surgery center in 1997.
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.
TEXAS HIGHER EDUCATION COORDINATING BOARD APPROVES FIRST PODIATRY PROGRAM IN TEXAS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has approved a request from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to create a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) with a major in Podiatric Medicine, for the UTRGV School of Podiatry.
The announcement was made on Friday, October 23, 2020, by UTRGV officials.
This will be the first school of podiatry in Texas and will allow students to pursue careers in the medical and surgical care of the foot and ankle – an important specialization for the Valley, with its high incidence of diabetes and related diseases of the lower extremities.
This approval comes with the understanding that UTRGV will hire three faculty members before enrolling students for its fall 2022 inaugural class, pending accreditation by both the Council on Podiatric Medical Education (CPME) and theSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Dr. Lawrence Harkless, Interim Dean, UTRGV School of Podiatry and Professor of Surgery in the School of Medicine, said the journey to approval has been a lengthy process but well worth the wait.
“I was recruited as Interim Dean by Dr. John Krouse, UTRGV’s Executive Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine, to create an academic plan for the UTRGV School of Podiatric Medicine,” Harkless said. “My personal journey is like the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) brand – learn, serve, lead.
“My previous experiences serving in academia, business and government have prepared me well to be in the position to develop a school of podiatric medicine in the UT System. It has been an exciting journey built on the foundation of faith and hope,” he said.
Harkless said his personal mentor, Dr. Louis T. Bogy, founding chair of the Podiatry Residency Training Program at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, had a vision for a school of podiatric medicine in the UT System. His vision culminated in enabling legislation in 1973 to establish a school of podiatric medicine in the UT System. It took 46 years for it to happen.
UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the School of Medicine continues to fulfill its mission to improve access to and quality of healthcare in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Our School of Podiatry is going to be a big game-changer here in the Valley, where so many people need specialty care due to complications from diabetes,” he said. “This will allow us to train our own doctors to address a very specific critical need. We remain committed to improving the future of healthcare in South Texas.”
Goals and Opportunities
The UTRGV School of Podiatry will train students to become podiatric physicians and regional specialists for the foot and ankle, and its learning objectives will prepare the student for both four years of podiatric education and subsequent residency training.
In addition to providing standard podiatric medical and surgical education, the goal is also to develop critical thinking skills for students.
Harkless said it is exciting that students and faculty also will have opportunities to engage in research within the UTRGV School of Podiatry.
“We anticipate that the UTRGV School of Podiatry will become the recognized authority in diabetic foot research due to the large diabetic patient population in the Valley,” he said. “With careful recruitment of faculty who are experienced in research and mentoring students, residents, and post-docs, we will have opportunities to participate in research design, patient recruitment, examination, and data analysis.”
Krouse said he is proud of the work that went into bringing about the first school of podiatry to Texas.
“We are extremely proud of Dr. Harkless and the faculty and staff who dedicated their efforts to making the UTRGV School of Podiatry a reality,” Krouse said. “We know that the school will increase public awareness of foot and ankle problems in the region and state. Through collaborations with other professionals and policymakers, we will make Texans healthier and more active. The school will also help improve the shortage of podiatric physicians in the state, especially in under-served areas where amputation and disability rates are extremely high.”
Dr. Fred Farias, Vice Chairman, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, said the School of Podiatry will transcend diabetic care in the region.
“I was proud to make the motion to the THECB for the establishment for the UTRGV School of Podiatry, it will be the very first one in the state of Texas. It is important not only to the region but to the state,” Farias said.
“There is a high incidence of diabetes in the Valley, and foot care is very important in diabetic care. We will be able to train podiatrists right here at UTRGV to meet the needs of patients in the Valley,” he said.
Doctors that are referred to as podiatrists provide treatment for many foot conditions. These include ingrown toenails, foot and ankle injuries, and neuromas. The education podiatrists go through consists of medical school training, followed by obtaining a doctorate degree in podiatry. Many podiatrists choose to perform surgery that helps to correct bunions, hammertoe, and Achilles tendon injuries. Additionally, they are able to diagnose foot conditions that may improve from wearing custom made orthotics. These may be helpful in improving abnormal walking patterns, and patients who are afflicted with plantar fasciitis may find relief.
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.
Dimitra Trejo 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).