|EDINBURG, March 20 - Dr. Carlos Cardenas, chairman of the board at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, began proceedings by calling it a Red Letter Day.
Cardenas was kicking off a news conference to announce four new residency programs at DHR. The event concluded with the ceremonial signing of an affiliation agreement between the Edinburg-based hospital at UT-Health Science Center San Antonio.
“What a Red Letter Day today, a truly joyous day. It is going to be a phenomenal residency program,” Cardenas said. “We are all here today to mark the beginning of what is a transformational time.”
Cardenas pointed out that efforts to land a medical school have been going on in the Rio Grande Valley for 60 years. He then acknowledged the presence of state Senators Juan Hinojosa and Eddie Lucio, who, he said, had been working for the last 20 years to make it happen.
“All the smiles, all the joy that is in this room, all the energy, is going to propel this project forward. It is a very exciting time for us, a very exciting time for the Rio Grande Valley. One of the fastest growing MSAs in the country, we are outstripping our ability to provide the medical needs of this community,” Cardenas said.
Cardenas then introduced a video about the new medical school UT is creating. Local hospitals have to provide quality residency programs for students graduating from the medical school in order for the medical school to succeed. The video started with Gov. Rick Perry’s famous remarks when he ceremonially signed Senate Bill 24 into law. The legislation created a new university with medical school.
“I have had some fabulous and wonderful moments as a Governor of Texas but I am not sure I have ever had one that was any more impactful or one that I have enjoyed any more than being able to walk to that table and put my pen to paper and create one of the next great universities in America,” Perry said.
After the news conference and affiliation agreement had been signed, Dr. Cardenas spoke with reporters about the significance of the new residency programs.
“For 60 years the Rio Grande Valley has been looking for a medical school. In order to have a medical school you must have residency programs. Today, we signed an affiliation agreement with the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, founding four residency programs, which are the core residency programs needed for a medical school: internal medicine, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, and general surgery. These core residencies are needed in order to be able to move a medical school forward.”
Cardenas pointed out that, on average, 70 percent of residents will establish their practices within 150 miles of where they trained. “As one of the fastest growing areas in the country, with our population literally exploding, it is absolutely imperative that we develop the training programs to keep physicians in our community. That is a long-term health and growth strategy for our area,” Cardenas said.
Cardenas also pointed out that Texas is a net exporter of medical students to other parts of the country. “So, if we are going to build a medical school of the highest quality it only makes sense to have top quality residency programs. That will happen at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance.”
Cardenas was asked why he used the words “transformational” in his speech. He was asked if he was referring to the impact four new community clinics associated with the residency program will have.
“When I talk about transformational, I am thinking not only about the healthcare delivery sense but also from the economic driver sense. As an economic development tool, to bring a medical school to our area and to bring the residency programs to support it, it will be transformational for our economy, and the ability to bring about economic development. The ability to have the residents working in community clinics will do what you are talking about, which is transform our ability to deliver health care to those who most need it in our community,” Cardenas told the Guardian.