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New UTHSC center may ease South Texas health care concerns

South Texans battling a severe health care shortage will find a new ally in The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC).

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) entered into a $1.25 million, five-year cooperative agreement with the UTHSC to establish the Regional Center for Health Workforce Studies. The regional research facility will address health workforce issues in the South Central United States, including Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, with a special emphasis on the U.S.-Mexico border region.

"The new UT Health Science Center at San Antonio research center will help us develop effective strategies for attracting the right mix of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to serve the people who live in the border region," said Tommy G. Thompson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "The grant is part of our broader commitment to improving access to health care in this underserved area."

Antonio Furino, M.D., professor in the department of family and community medicine at the Health Science Center, will direct the center. "Health professionals are the critical human factors who connect the intent of laws and programs to the people needing care," Dr. Furino said. "Traditionally, we have had little knowledge of the complex set of variables that affect their number, location and performance. Research at the new center will ensure informed policy decisions and will help key programs to succeed."

HRSA acting administrator Elizabeth Duke said the agreement recognizes the health care crisis faced by border residents and the role local researchers can play in improving the conditions.

Contact: Amanda Gallagher or Aileen Salinas