Dr. Manish Singh, CEO of DHR Health

Thank you, Marissa, and good afternoon everybody.

What a momentous day. At the heart of everything here that we do at DHR is our community, the whole Rio Grande Valley. Twenty-four years ago the founding partners came together with a joint vision, to bring the most advanced healthcare services to the Rio Grande Valley. They saw a future where you would no longer have to travel up north hundreds of miles to receive the healthcare you need and deserve. I have the privilege of standing up here today to say that day has come. 

A Level One Trauma Center is the game-changer for all our community. This means you now have access to the highest level of trauma care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and every single day of the year. 

As Marissa mentioned, we could not have done this alone. This support from the local cities, elected officials and state leaders who supported this issue has been critical and essential to making DHR Health the first and only Level One Trauma Center south of San Antonio.

I would like to introduce and wholeheartedly thank our esteemed governor, whose leadership on this issue has helped shed a spotlight on the need for a Level One Trauma Center in the Rio Grande Valley, and who fought to make it a priority in the Texas Legislature. Governor, we owe you our thanks. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the Honorable Greg Abbott.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott:

Well, thank you, Dr. Singh and I wanted to say thank you to all of the doctors, all of the nurses, all of the staff, everybody who works in the healthcare sector. We know the magnitude of the challenges that you have faced over the past year and a half. But, candidly, we know the magnitude of the challenges you face every day. And we applaud what you do, for the role that you played to make the RGV as well as the entire state of Texas a better place. 

Today is a day of remarkable achievement for the Rio Grande Valley, for DHR. It is an issue that has been focused on for years now. It always so rewarding when you have a goal that you want to achieve, you put the effort into it to achieve that goal and then you ultimately achieve it. And so, as talked earlier today in a meeting before we came in here, this is a substantial milestone for DHR and for the Rio Grande Valley. However, it really is not an end unto itself. It really is a stepping stone toward an even broader and better pathway forward. 

I want thank everybody here for the work they do every day. This is especially true because of a fact that we all know. And that is, the Rio Grande Valley, it continues to grow in population and in size. And as you grow in population and size, also your healthcare needs similarly grow and seek greater demand. 

As a result it was pretty amazing when I first began to talk to your leaders who are up here with us today, several years ago, and learned then for the first time that you did not have a trauma one center in the Rio Grande Valley and that the closest one was in San Antonio. Especially considering the size and the trauma that too many people in the region have to experience. It needed to change. You needed and you deserved to have a Level One Trauma Center here in the Rio Grande Valley. That is now true today. (Applause)

As several of us talked, several years ago, they told me that their No. 1 priority was to make sure that you did have a Level One Trauma Center. I promised them I would go to work. I would make sure it happened. Like a lot of big things that happen, it didn’t happen overnight. It took several years to happen. But, today is the day. Today they are now making history with the official designation of a Level One Trauma Center in the Rio Grande Valley of the great state of Texas.

It is a monumental day for this hospital but, equally important, it is a monumental day for the health and safety of everybody in the entire Rio Grande Valley region. 

Now, one thing I know you know but must be emphasized and that is, in trauma care minutes matter. Because of this new Level One Trauma Center lives are going to be saved and better outcomes are going to be achieved because a Level One Trauma Center now exits in the Rio Grande Valley. 

Now, things like this cost money. And this was one of the things I talked to local leaders about, to make sure you had the resources that are needed to make sure you did have this Level One Trauma Center. Funding for this designation was a priority in the 2019 legislative session. Senator Hinojosa led the way to secure the state funding that was needed for this designation. He, obviously, was helped by the entire Rio Grande Valley legislative delegation. And I want to thank the Texas Legislature for improving access to healthcare in the Rio Grande Valley.

While I am here with you I want to take just one moment to provide you some additional information about a law that was passed this session that does even more to improve healthcare in the Rio Grande Valley. There are actually multiple things that were done but only one of which I will announced today. In fact, I am going to sing the bill today of what was done that will help everyone and, as I will articulate, especially help everyone in the Rio Grande Valley. The Legislature took action this session to pass a law to help Texans with diabetes, which obviously is a major healthcare challenge for people across the entire state of Texas. 

One of the treatments for people with diabetes is insulin and that is a constant, ongoing, need. And, as you know, the cost of insulin had just skyrocketed. In fact, it has more than tripled over the past 15 years. Insulin, candidly, has become unaffordable for too many Texans, including Texans in the Rio Grande Valley. And, as a result it compromises their healthcare. So, right now I am going to sign a law to keep insulin affordable in the state of Texas. What the law does is this, it limits copays to $25 per insulin prescription for a 30-day supply. This is going to cut the healthcare costs for Texans with diabetes and Texas who might otherwise face exorbitant out of pocket costs. I want to thank in particular Senator Kolkhorst as well as Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, in the Texas Legislature for helping to lead the way in making this law possible. (Applause)

(Signs Senate Bill 827)

Insulin is now cheaper for Texans across the entire state including those in the Rio Grande Valley. (Applause)

Marissa Castañeda, senior executive vice president, DHR Health

Thank you, Governor Abbott for your leadership and making this so special. What an honor it is. We appreciate being able to witness this signing of Senate Bill 827. This important piece of legislation will help so many. It will make such a difference for so many of our patients here in the Rio Grande Valley. They will no longer have to face excessive, out of pocket, costs for life-saving drugs. We can’t thank you enough. 

Additionally, as Dr. Singh mentioned, we appreciate the faith and unwavering support in helping to bring the highest level of trauma care to the Rio Grande Valley.

At DHR Health, our cornerstone is the community. We don’t back away. We step up, we get as close as possible, and we get it done. So today is proof of that. You being here to be able to help us help so many more of our patients is critical. 

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was made at the official announcement that DHR Health had achieved a Level One Trauma Center designation. The event was held at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance.

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series on DHR Health securing a Level One Trauma Center designation. Click here to read Part One. Part Three will be published in our next edition.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above commentary shows Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and DHR physicians and staff at the official announcement that DHR Health had secured a Level One Trauma Center designation. (Photo credit: DHR Health).

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