EDINBURG, RGV – One of the founding physicians of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance says the goal of he and his colleagues is to make DHR Health the best hospital in the United States.

Dr. Lawrence Gelman, an anesthesiologist, spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the DHR Health Eye Institute. His daughter, Dr. Rachel Ann Gelman is an ophthalmologist at the institute.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Friday, March 8, 2019, for the new DHR Health Eye Institute.

“Our business model is different. It is not the profit in dollars, it is the profit in the benefit to our patients. That is always the bottom line. I think that is why we stand out,” Gelman said.

Reminiscing about the last 20 years, Gelman said he could never have imagined the profound impact Doctors Hospital at Renaissance would have. From the germ of an idea by eight local physicians, DHR has grown to 4,964 employees. It is home to 600 physicians, 1,894 nurses, 230 allied health professionals, and, currently, 98 medical residents.

At its 500-plus bed hospital, DHR Health sees 1.3 million patients and conducts two million lab tests.

“Having been here from the beginning and to see it when it was very small… the care we provide, the doctors we bring in that share this philosophy… it is almost hard to imagine if you go back 20 years what we were 20 years ago, and what the community was 20 years ago, and what we are today and what we are going to be.”

Gelman acknowledged that the event was rather emotional for him. “I am proud of my daughter and what she has achieved,” he said. “I wish I could be more eloquent about it but there is too much stuff going on in my mind.”

Dr. Rachel Ann Gelman performed DHR Health’s first corneal transplant. Corneal disease is a common problem that can cause vision disturbances and discomfort. DHR Health is now the only center to offer this service to the community.

The team of physicians at the Eye Institute are experts in ophthalmic surgery and provide a wide range of treatments for vision correction, cataracts, glaucoma, dry eye, and other eye disorders. 

Gelman praised Dr. Rachel Ann Gelman’s colleague at the DHR Health Eye Institute, Dr. Jorge Antonio Montes. He said Montes had given “inspirational” remarks.

Concluding his remarks, Gelman said: “There are lots of very good hospitals in the United States but I believe we are unique in the sense that… in most hospitals you have your doctors, you have your hospital administration, and you have your nurses, and other personal. They are all rowing in their own row boats. I think we have a battleship.

“We are all working towards the same goal. I think we are kind of unique in that the agenda and the goals of everyone involved in the hospital is going in the same direction, for the same purpose. Everybody feels themselves part of the same machinery, an essential part of the machinery, that is going to allow us to achieve the goal, which is essentially to be the best hospital in the United States.”

World Class Healthcare

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, who worked for DHR Health ten years, also spoke at the official opening of the new Eye Institute. He said the new center was a game changer for the Valley.

“Every day is a game changer and these are special game changers when we have new lines of service that no one has,” Darling said. He said DHR has “changed healthcare in the Valley.”

DHR Health CEO Manish Singh, MD, and DHR Health Chief Medical Officer Robert D. Martinez, MD.

In his remarks, Dr. Robert Martinez, chief medical officer at DHR Health, said Dr. Gelman and others had taken a “big risk” in starting the hospital. Martinez said DHR’s vision is to give local students an opportunity to realize their career dreams without having to leave the Valley. For example, students who want to become doctors should be able to do their rotations in the Valley, something Martinez was not able to do when he was getting started in medicine. 

“We want to have world class medicine here at home,” Martinez said. “Come to the hospital, tour the hospital. You really don’t have to go very far to get world class healthcare.”

Martinez teased an event happening later this week. “You are going to learn a lot about research here pretty soon,” he said, referencing the opening of UT-Rio Grande Valley’s medical research center on Wednesday, March 13. The center is located next to DHR off of Dove Avenue, just east of McColl Road.

“The medicine we practice here is world class, you don’t need to go anywhere else,” Martinez added.

UTRGV School of Medicine Perspective

Dr. John H. Krouse, dean of the UT-Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, referred to DHR Health as a “world-class enterprise” during the hospital system’s recent State of the Hospital address. And he predicted a “rapidly expanding partnership” between DHR Health and UTRGV. 

“There is no question that this evolving alignment between our institutions has been and will continue to be transformational for healthcare in the Valley, now and into the future,” Krouse said.

Krouse admitted that when he arrived in the Valley he was not aware of how DHR Health had, over 20 years, “built a remarkable infrastructure” to care for the needs of Valley patients. He said he wished to applaud DHR “for all it has accomplished for the benefits of the patients and the entire community.”

Krouse said that when he was preparing his remarks for the State of the Hospital address he was reflecting on how much UTRGV School of Medicine and DHR Health had accomplished together, in a short amount of time.

Dr. John H. Krouse

“I have realized how much our two institutions share in common. By far, the most significant and compelling similarity is that UT-Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine and DHR Health share a common passion and that passion is to serve our community and to continue providing accessible, high quality, innovative healthcare to our patients across the Rio Grande Valley, from Starr County to South Padre Island,” Krouse said.

Krouse said it was that passion and sense of caring that “led eight local physicians to begin the development of a world-class healthcare enterprise 20 years ago to meet the needs of this community.”

He said DHR Health has been “growing rapidly in size, scope and stature over those two decades from a small ambulatory surgery center to a comprehensive healthcare system that offers more than 70 specialities and subspecialties across the Valley.”

Krouse said: “Through its ongoing and sustained investment in the community, DHR Health has led the Valley in healthcare innovation, allowing steadily increasing numbers of patients to remain here in the Valley, to receive comprehensive treatment for a wide-range of medical and surgical needs.”

Krouse pointed out that UTRGV SOM is preparing 169 new physicians in ten residency programs. He said most of them are receiving their training and clinical education through DHR Health. 

“This is significant for the community because 64 percent of that last graduating class have chosen to stay here in the Rio Grande Valley to deliver quality care to patients and teach other young physicians.” 

Krouse predicted the school of medicine will “continue to work together with DHR” in growing additional residencies and fellowships to address local workforce needs. 

“The School of Medicine also has 155 medical students with about 50 of those in their third year of study, many of whom rotate here at DHR and learn from the skilled physicians and surgeons that practice here,” he said.

Krouse also spoke about a number of joint clinical recruitments UTRGV SOM has with DHR Health. 

“We hire pediatric sub-specialists in neurology, genetics, developmental and behavioral health. We’ve continued to develop a trauma program through the recruitment and hire of fellowship trained trauma surgeons, establishing a higher level of trauma care and leading together with DHR to the launch of a Level 1 Trauma Center here in the Valley.”

Krouse said UTRGV is in discussion with DHR Health and others to “create a comprehensive cancer center” in the Valley, “growing clinical care and research in this much needed area.” 

He also said UTRGV SOM’s collaboration with DHR Health is “vital in fulfilling our mutual promise to the community, to provide excellent healthcare to all, close to home.”

Though DHR Health and the UTRGV’s School of Medicine have accomplished a huge amount individually, “it is when these two entities join together that the Valley can benefit from the synergism and energy that that partnership can bring,” Krouse said. 

“Together our two institutions have the potential to elevate not only the quality of, and access to, care but to grow the stature of the Rio Grande Valley to become a nationwide leader in healthcare innovation and care delivery.”

Academic Health System

Krouse said it is the “vision” of UTRGV School of Medicine to “come together with our colleagues” at DHR Health to “form the Valley’s first academic health system.”

He said an academic health system is “not only the place where the next generation of healthcare professionals and scientists train,” but, as in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, “the place where medical breakthroughs happen and where patients receive the world’s best care. This is certainly my hope for our growing partnership and what I believe is your vision as well.”

Krouse said UTRGV SOM and DHR have the opportunity to be “at the forefront of developing centers of excellence for decreasing and hopefully eliminating healthcare disparities among the Hispanic population and for bringing together partnerships to provide innovative research and treatment for patients with cancer, diabetes, and many other common chronic illnesses.”

Together, he said, “through a true academic health system,” UTRGV SOM and DHR Health can “accelerate the timeline” for bringing services closer to home for patients and to “take the next steps for creating a true academic medical center that delivers outstanding care” in the Valley. 

Krouse added: “I have learned that the Valley is fortunate to have such an outstanding health enterprise as DHR Health, built by Valley residents, for Valley residents and second to none in the quality of its physicians and services. I have learned that we share a common vision to grow our impact and scope as DHR Health and UTRGV continue to evolve the delivery of healthcare in the Rio Grande Valley.”