May 24, 2002
Volume XXXV, No. 21



Centers of Excellence leaders discuss border health solutions

PHOTO (L-R) Armando Pollack, Dr. Martha Medrano, Dr. Steven A. Wartman and Henry Lopez discuss border health issues during the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Conference.

Directors and program officers of Centers of Excellence from California to Texas were in San Antonio recently for a U.S.-Mexico Border Health Conference. The group included representatives of Area Health Education Centers, Health Careers Opportunity Programs and Health Education Training Centers Alliances.

The meeting, "Building a Workforce for a Healthy Border," was organized by the Hispanic Center of Excellence in the School of Medicine at the Health Science Center.

"The Secretary of Health and Human Services (Tommy Thompson) has made it known that he is going to request an increase in the number of community health centers by 1,000," said Armando Pollack, program officer from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). "This consortium of Centers of Excellence from each of the states will be vital in training the health providers in cultural competence and diversity. It's a critical issue. If the federal government's goal is going to be met, the responsibility falls on health science centers to train people to serve in distressed areas."

"The issues we face are quite problematic," said Dr. Steven A. Wartman, executive vice president for academic and health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. "Even if you take away the daunting social issues, you deal with workforce issues that are equally daunting. Various health care commissions have tried to project what we need, but it remains that we face profound difficulties in improving the appropriate distribution of health care professionals to underserved regions."

Henry Lopez, acting director of the Division of Health Careers Diversity and Development within HRSA, said the Health Science Center has a long history of promoting health careers opportunities."

Representatives from California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas presented health data collected from physicians in their regions.

Related story:
Texas-Mexico border health-related activities sought