Updated: Jun 5
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar Announces Federal Funding for TTUHSC El Paso Border Health Outreach Initiative
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso officials today announced a $3 million federal grant to create the innovative Border Health Outreach Initiative at the university.
The funds were included in the recent $1.7 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act that President Joe Biden signed into law on Dec. 30, 2022, and will be used to advance and improve health outcomes for underserved communities in our Borderplex region, including colonias, which are unincorporated, often low-income, zones along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"I’m proud to support the Border Health Outreach Initiative, which will have a transformative impact on the health and well-being of underserved communities in the Paso del Norte region," said Rep. Escobar.
The Border Health Outreach Initiative is a collaborative effort between the university, local health care providers and community organizations. The initiative will provide access to cutting-edge research, community engagement opportunities, and state-of-the-art telehealth services for individuals in the region.
The initiative seeks solutions to complex issues contributing to limited health care access, high poverty rates and chronic disease along the U.S.-Mexico border. By leveraging telehealth and engagement with rural communities and colonias, the program will empower these localities by providing generational care to families, establishing health records systems and conducting evidence-based research on diabetes, cancer and obesity – diseases that disproportionately affect Hispanic populations. It will foster unique interprofessional collaboration in the region between local physicians, nurses, biomedical researchers, public health researchers, promotores (community health workers) and students.
“At TTUHSC El Paso, we’re committed to improving health outcomes and addressing health disparities, and the Border Health Outreach Initiative will help us achieve these goals by expanding access to preventative care and improving the quality of care for individuals in our region,” said TTUHSC El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A. “This initiative represents a significant investment in the health and well-being of our community and is a key part of our mission to create healthy futures for those in the communities we serve."
Objectives for the Border Health Outreach Initiative include expanding access to quality health care, increasing the availability of preventive services, improving health outcomes through better disease management and enhancing public health infrastructure in underserved communities. The initiative will also work to address social determinants of health and promote health equity, with a focus on addressing the underlying factors that contribute to health disparities in border communities.
The importance of early diagnosis and monitoring of obesity, diabetes and cancer cannot be overstated. These conditions are prevalent in the Paso del Norte region, and early detection and management can greatly improve health outcomes and quality of life for those affected by these diseases. For example, according to the Texas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, over 40% of adults in El Paso are considered obese, making it the highest rate in Texas. The region’s Hispanic population is at greatest risk, with obesity a leading cause of comorbidities and mortality, resulting in high rates of diabetes and cancer. As for diabetes, 16.9% of adults in El Paso County are living with diabetes, compared to 12.6% in the Lone Star State and 10.6% in the U.S.
“Every day, people in our community are diagnosed with chronic conditions which could have been prevented or reduced in severity if they had adequate access to health care,” said Deborah Clegg, Ph.D., vice president for research. “With these funds, we’ll be able to better conduct outreach, monitoring and disease management for underserved communities.”
TTUHSC El Paso provides a range of services to individuals living in colonias. Services include primary and preventative care, chronic disease management and behavioral health services.
The Border Health Outreach Initiative has the potential to benefit research at TTUHSC El Paso and the community because Hispanic individuals are often left out of health studies. TTUHSC El Paso researchers aim to use the initiative to improve data collection and analysis, empower communities through engagement and develop new research programs.
"This initiative represents a great opportunity for the Francis Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences,” said Rajkumar Lakshmanaswamy, Ph.D., dean of the Francis Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. “By providing our students with access to cutting-edge research, community empowerment and engagement opportunities, and state-of-the-art facilities, the outreach initiative will help us train the next generation of biomedical researchers and leaders to make a meaningful impact."
Read More: TECH TALK - FEB 14, 2023
YOU CAN HELP
At TTUHSC El Paso, we are committed to growing our own health care heroes and changing the state of health care in our Borderplex. For more information about how you can help, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or visit ttuhscep.edu/elpaso/ia/giving/.