November 6, 2000
Volume XXXIII, No. 37

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HSC plants new beginning for Laredo Campus Extension


Health Science Magnet School students present Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, Health Science Center president, with a plant to commemorate the new Laredo Campus Extension.

State legislative, city and county leaders, led by the newly appointed Health Science Center president and officials from The University of Texas System, gathered on Oct. 26 in Laredo to celebrate the future of the new Laredo Campus Extension.

"Our responsibility is to seek out the diamonds in the fields. We will provide students with the tools to help raise their talents and determination," said Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, Health Science Center president. "When I see these young people who are here with us, I realize that some years ago I was in their situation wanting to enter a health care profession. What if the doors had been closed to me? That would have been unfortunate. These students should not be disappointed.

"I want to ensure that everyone has every door open to opportunity. One of those open doors will be right here where we are today," said Dr. Cigarroa. "It will be the door to the new D.D. Hachar Building and this particular door will lead to exciting new careers."

During the ceremony, 22 Laredo high school students who are interested in health careers received certificates and served as "honorary ambassadors" of the Laredo Campus Extension.

The Laredo Campus Extension was created in the last session of the Texas Legislature by Senate Bill 1288, authored by State Sen. Judith Zaffirini of Laredo. The first building will be completed in 2001. It will be named for the late D.D. Hachar, a prominent Laredo philanthropist and businessman. The campus will provide allied health degree programs, continuing education activities and other educational programming in the Laredo region.

"We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Zaffirini in sponsoring this legislation," said Dr. Cigarroa. "Since I am from Laredo, I understand the great needs for more health care education in this region. This new center will change the landscape of the region by opening new doors to talented young people who seek the opportunity to excel in the health professions."

During the ceremony, Dr. Cigarroa read a letter from State Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo, who sponsored legislation in the Texas House for the new extension with the support of Rep. Tracy King, whose district includes part of Laredo.

The keynote speaker, Sen. Zaffirini, "thought back to what made a difference, to where the turning point exactly was defined, to who came with us along the way.

"You who are here today are not only symbolic of the many people who are making this extension possible, but also include many young people who symbolize our futureóthe students here today who will be our leaders tomorrow," she said.

Additionally, she was quoted in the Laredo Morning Times as praising "Dr. Cigarroa as a leader whose vision will ensure that all Texans benefit from regional partnerships such as the Laredo Campus Extension."

The campus extension is to be constructed on nearly 10 acres of land near Laredo International Airport and Mercy Regional Medical Center.

The 20,000-square-foot D.D. Hachar Building is in the design phase. The D.D. Hachar Charitable Trust Fund of Laredo has committed $2 million toward the estimated construction cost of $4 million.

Space in the Hachar Building is earmarked for several activities, including offices of programs funded by the South Texas/Border Region Health Education Initiative and offices of the Mid Rio Grande Border Region Area Health Education Center (AHEC).

The building also will include administrative and laboratory space for the South Texas Environmental Education and Research Program (STEER), meeting and conference rooms for continuing education and seminars, and a technologically advanced library connected to comprehensive electronic databases.

Other rooms will include a multipurpose auditorium seating up to 200 people, classrooms and seminar rooms.

In cooperation with community partners, the Health Science Centerís School of Allied Health Sciences has brought several degree programs to Laredo, including baccalaureate programs in respiratory therapy and clinical laboratory sciences, a masterís-level program in occupational therapy and certificate programs in emergency medical technology. These will be offered in the new campus extension.

Twelve students from the United Independent School District and 10 from the Laredo ISD were presented certificates at the Oct. 26 celebration and were asked to serve as "honorary ambassadors" of the Laredo campus.

The Health Science Centerís schools already offer a number of programs in the Laredo region. These include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • Six-week clerkships in family practice medicine and a collaborative training program utilizing the Lions Clubs Mobile Eye Screening Unit, both sponsored by the Medical School.

  • Training in advanced prosthodontics and provision of athlete mouth guards, sponsored by the Dental School.

  • Public health and environmental health courses for medical, nursing and public health students through the STEER Program.

  • Instructional programs focusing on topics such as critical care nursing, health assessments and maternal-child health, sponsored by the School of Nursing.

  • Health careers programming for students in the United and Laredo Independent School Districts, sponsored by the Mid Rio Grande Border Region AHEC and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.