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Home | Tag Archives: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso

Tag Archives: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso

Peter Piper Pizza to sponsor Foster School of Medicine’s 10-Year Anniversary Celebration

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and Peter Piper Pizza are teaming up to invest in scholarships for students at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.

“Peter Piper Pizza is proud to support Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and their ongoing mission to improve the lives of those in the El Paso community,” said Kirk Robison, chairman and CEO of Pizza Properties.

The local franchise is contributing $25,000 to the Decade Scholarship as a major sponsor of TTUHSC El Paso’s “Red Tie Affair For A White Coat Occasion” celebration on Friday, February 28, 2020.

The event celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Foster School of Medicine, which opened its doors to an inaugural class of 40 students in 2009. With help from community supporters like Peter Piper Pizza, the Foster School of Medicine is educating the future of health care and has graduated 422 students to date.

All event proceeds will go toward medical student scholarships with a focus on recruiting students from El Paso and across West Texas who will remain or return to the region to serve their community. The Foster School of Medicine was established to serve the mission of improving access to quality health care in the Borderland.

Peter Piper Pizza is also one of several local restaurants joining in the celebration by offering discounts for TTUHSC El Paso students and employees.

For information on the “Red Tie Affair For A White Coat Occasion” celebration, visit the 10-year anniversary website. Also on the site is an opportunity for alumni of the Foster School of Medicine to share memories and experiences during their time as medical students.

TTUHSC El Paso disaster training helped prepare Emergency Responders for Mass Shooting

The Department of Emergency Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso plays a major role in preparing physicians and first responders for mass casualty incidents like the August 3 shooting at the Walmart in East-Central El Paso.

The attack killed 22 people and injured more than two dozen others.

Approximately every 18 months, the department conducts large-scale disaster drills as part of its three-year training program for emergency medicine residents. The department’s disaster drill in 2017 was based on an active-shooter scenario.

In April 2019, the department ran a two-day drill featuring a scenario involving trauma and toxicology: a train crash that unleashed a spill of hydrofluoric acid.

The drills typically bring together a wide range of participants, including residents training in other specialties, TTUHSC El Paso medical and nursing students, personnel from the El Paso Fire Department, and first-responder trainees from the community.

Middle and high school students from area schools have also participated in the drills, sometimes role-playing as simulated patients or training as part of their high schools’ first-responder programs.

“Physician residents and TTUHSC El Paso students have some opportunity during their training to see multiple patients, one after the other, in the emergency department, but it’s very rare that it is at the pace of a mass casualty incident,” said TTUHSC El Paso Professor of Emergency Medicine Stephen W. Borron, M.D., M.S., who helps organize the disaster drills.

“Being able to juggle multiple balls—keeping patients alive when you’re taking care of several patients at a time, and their conditions are changing very quickly—is a skill set that almost has to be learned outside the emergency department, because we just fortunately don’t see these kinds of incidents frequently,” Dr. Borron said.

TTUHSC El Paso Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine Scott Crawford, M.D., who works with Dr. Borron to organize the drills, said the exercises help emergency responders maintain focus and efficiency in an often-chaotic environment.

“One of the biggest benefits of (the drills) is that in a relatively controlled setting, they allow individuals to experience the challenge with communication and coordination of care between groups,” said Dr. Crawford, who also serves as director for the Training and Educational Center for Healthcare Simulation (TECHS) at TTUHSC El Paso.

Alejandro J. Rios Tovar, M.D., assistant professor and the associate trauma medical director for TTUHSC El Paso’s Department of Surgery, participated in disaster drills while completing his general surgery residency at TTUHSC El Paso from 2011 to 2016.

“I would always take the drills seriously as if they were real. The mass casualty drills help and it showed on the day of the shooting,” said Dr. Rios Tovar, who treated gunshot victims at University Medical Center of El Paso on Aug. 3. “Everybody knew what they were supposed to do.”

Now that the community has tragically experienced a mass-casualty incident that it hoped would never happen, the Department of Emergency Medicine will examine whether it can organize more frequent disaster drills, Dr. Borron said.

Dr. Crawford said the next drill likely won’t be based on an active shooter scenario because it could be emotionally traumatic for those that worked in emergency rooms on the day of the shooting.

Given the drills’ proven benefits, future events will surely include more participants from an array of academic departments, the physicians said.

“There needs to be even more interaction between physician residencies,” Dr. Borron said. “For example, it would be good for us to drill with the surgical department, the trauma residents, the radiology residents and the orthopaedic residents at a minimum; and maybe some of the internal medicine and pediatric residents. Almost every specialty comes into play in some way or other in a disaster situation.”

Author:  – TTUHSC El Paso

On the Fast Track: 19-Year-Old is the Foster School of Medicine’s Youngest Student

Lokesh Nagineni describes himself as someone who never backs down from a challenge.

From becoming a top spelling bee participant in the U.S. to earning a black belt in taekwondo and teaching the martial art, Nagineni’s determination to succeed is evident.

Now, he is tackling his biggest challenge yet – pursuing a medical degree as a member of the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine’s class of 2023. And he’s doing it at 19 years old – the youngest student to matriculate at the Foster School of Medicine in its 10-year history.

He graduated from UT Dallas in December 2018 with a bachelor of science degree in biology.

Nagineni was selected as a Foster Scholar and awarded a prestigious Foster Scholarship that helps pay student tuition costs. El Paso businessman Paul L. Foster’s 2007 gift of $50 million to help create the school of medicine also funded the Foster Scholars program.

“I was actually very intrigued because this is a fairly new school,” Nagineni said, explaining one of the qualities that drew him to the Foster School of Medicine. “It stands at a very unique place because it’s not just on the Mexico border, it’s on multiple borders.”

Nagineni was born in Irving, Texas and grew up in Flower Mound, a suburb of Dallas. He spent his summers in southern India with his grandparents in an area with a climate similar to El Paso’s.

Early on, Nagineni took a natural inclination to learning when he discovered spelling bees.

“I was 6 years old and I said, ‘Hey dad, this looks cool.’ And he said, ‘All right, go for it,'” Nagineni said of his first spelling bee. “I got knocked out in the second round. I don’t even remember what word I missed, but I remember it was a lot of fun.”

Undeterred, he kept studying; his natural curiosity drove him to uncover the origin of words.

“I remember looking at some of these words and thinking, ‘No way that’s part of the English language,'” he said. “And it turns out, I was right. They were taken from other languages. I loved looking at language patterns and seeing how they ended up transforming over the years. Latin and Greek form the basis of a lot of English, and they form the basis of jargon that people use in different professional fields.”

His love for words led him to the semifinals of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee in front of a televised audience on ESPN. His TV appearance was only 30 seconds or so, but it was enough for his friends and classmates in middle school to capture videos of themselves watching and cheering for him.

Nagineni became interested in becoming a doctor around age 8, after his grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and became bedridden.

“I didn’t really like the hospital, and we went for that entire summer,” he said. “The doctors said they really couldn’t do anything for her at a certain point.”

Knowing the doctors couldn’t help her, he reached out to his maternal grandfather – a physician – to help him understand a profession that can lead to such heartbreaking moments.

Nagineni asked his grandfather, “If you have limitations, then why is this your job? What makes it worth it?”

His grandfather, a rural physician, took Nagineni to his clinic.

“I spent a lot of time there, and it was a completely different atmosphere,” Nagineni recalled. “I saw medicine from the provider side. The focus was more on what we can do to make a patient’s quality of life the best it can be, whether that be eradicating their illness, treating just the symptoms or delivering palliative care. There’s an entire range of care and treatment in medicine.”

Nagineni said his grandfather was supportive of his dream of becoming a physician, but made sure he understood the reality of the day-to-day life of a doctor.

“He said, ‘That’s great, but you know there’s a very long path and you have to keep working hard? There’ll be days that nobody might need your help, and there’ll be days where everybody might need your help. There will be times you’ll be exhausted after a full day, and you’ll be woken up in the middle of the night to go and treat somebody. So, will you really stick with it?'”

Nagineni explored the idea even more because that’s the kind of curious kid he was.

“I just kept on going back with him to visit the clinic, kept on asking questions. I bugged the nurses so much I’m sure they must have been tired of me,” Nagineni said. “I talked to everybody I could in health care  and came to the conclusion that as long as you really like your work and the spirit of the profession, you could do it for the rest of your life.”

Now at age 19, he’s taking the first step toward the life of a physician that he first considered as a profession about 10 years ago—right around the time the Foster School of Medicine admitted its first class.

“Nagineni is the type of student that the team from the Foster School of Medicine works to recruit. Someone who has a passion to serve others, determined to pursue a career in medicine and is attracted to our diverse community. Nagineni is the future of health care,” school officials added.

Foster Scholar Alumna makes a difference as a Family Medicine Physician

Sarah Sepulveda, M.D., didn’t let small-town roots limit her big dreams.

Dr. Sepulveda grew up in Fabens, Texas, a small community about 30 miles east of El Paso along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I wanted to become a doctor because you can help improve the quality of patients’ lives,” said Dr. Sepulveda, a 2015 graduate of the Foster School of Medicine. “I loved the idea of connecting and helping people when they are at their most challenging moments in life. It is a wonderful feeling to know that the patient has this much trust and faith in you.”

Dr. Sepulveda received a scholarship to attend medical school through the Foster Scholars program.

“Receiving a scholarship meant freedom to me,” Dr. Sepulveda said. “It meant that I was free to pursue the career of my choice. I really wanted to practice family medicine from my first year in medical school. Knowing that I wasn’t going to have a large amount of debt allowed me to choose the career in which I was happiest, helping address a major need for primary care physicians in my community.”

Without scholarship support, Dr. Sepulveda’s dream to pursue a degree in medicine and serve families in her community would not have been possible.

Dr. Sepulveda makes a difference in the community as a family medicine doctor at Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso in Northeast El Paso.

Make an investment in the future of health care by joining us as we celebrate the Foster School of Medicine’s 10th anniversary; for more information, visit the school’s 10-year anniversary website.


In 2007, El Paso businessman Paul L. Foster donated $50 million to help create the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. His gift has also funded the tuition of dozens of medical students, known as the Foster Scholars.

This academic year, the Foster Scholars program has awarded 90 students scholarships totaling $1.8 million; 78 students have received $15,000 Foster Scholarships, and 12 students have received $1,000 scholarships along with a non-resident tuition waiver.

Author:  – TTUHSC El Paso

TTP El Paso Mental Health Professionals offer tips,resources for overcoming emotional trauma after mass shooting

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso mental health professionals, who help patients recover from emotional trauma, are sharing tips and urging community members to seek help in the wake of the August 3rd Walmart shooting.

“Whether directly or indirectly affected by the mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart on August 3, some residents of our community may experience significant emotional issues,” TTP El Paso officials shared via an email.

Post-traumatic symptoms can affect victims and their loved ones, first responders, medical personnel, criminal investigators and others involved in traumatic incidents.

“People are going to know people who were in the store or know someone who was affected. There were a lot of folks who were witnesses, like first responders, even members of the media, and members of our TTUHSC El Paso and TTP El Paso community who treated the wounded,” said Melanie Longhurst, Ph.D., M.Ed., a TTUHSC El Paso assistant professor and clinical psychologist who works with veterans with PTSD in the El Paso Veterans Affairs health care system.

Resulting mental health disorders can include acute stress disorder (ASD), which occurs immediately after a traumatic incident, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is a long-term condition.

Affected individuals may experience a myriad of emotional and physical symptoms, including:

  • Depression, anxiety, anger and fear.
  • Nightmares.
  • Intrusive thoughts.
  • Flashbacks.
  • Negative thoughts about the future.
  • Poor appetite or overeating.
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep.
  • Social isolation.
  • Avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event.

Moataz M. Ragheb, M.D., Ph.D., a TTUHSC El Paso associate professor and practicing psychiatrist with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, said most people will recover with gradual resolution of symptoms over the following days, weeks, and sometimes months.

Only a minority will go on to develop long-term psychiatric conditions such as PTSD, he said.

With recovery being the rule rather than the exception, Dr. Ragheb and Dr. Longhurst said there are tools that can help people cope with trauma, including social and psychological interventions and medications, if necessary.

“You do not have  to suffer in silence until recovery is achieved,” Dr. Longhurst said.

Dr. Ragheb and Dr. Longhurst said another important tool is practicing self-care. There are things a person can do—and others things to avoid—to achieve recovery:

  • Refrain from using alcohol as a coping tool.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Stick to a nutritious diet and get regular exercise—even a brisk walk is helpful.
  • Minimize exposure to non-stop media coverage of the tragedy. Put down your phone or tablet—there is no need to constantly check social media for updates; it will just make you feel more stressed.
  • Practice relaxation exercises, mindfulness, meditation and/or yoga.
  • Do not suppress normal emotions.
  • Be aware of your brain’s patterns of response to the trauma. Don’t let negative thoughts take you into darker places. Pause, ponder and examine your train of thought. Challenge painful—often illogical—assumptions and conclusions. You are more resilient than you probably think.
  • There is no shame in reaching out for help.
  • This is not a one-size-fits-all list of recommendations; self-care will be different for different people.

As a community, we can help each other by checking in on friends and family and be there to listen to their concerns and worries. This is a time for both grieving and healing, and it works better together, Dr. Longhurst said.

As individuals, we should make an effort to reach out to our social networks of friends and family and stay connected.

“As the dust settles and acute stress starts to wind down, individuals will notice whether or not they will be exhibiting ongoing stress,” Dr. Longhurst said. “Is it impacting their day-to-day functioning? Are they struggling at work, struggling to get things done at home? Those are indicators to seek ongoing help.”

Those who feel they need counseling, guidance or simply want to talk to someone, can contact the organizations listed below for free, confidential consultation services.

  • Emergence Health Network’s 24-hour Crisis Line at 915-779-1800.
  • MetLife Grief Counseling Service at 1-866-885-6540.
  • Magellan Health Counseling Services at 1-800-327-7451.

TTUHSC El Paso’s conservation efforts yield double-digit energy reduction

With a growing campus, energy consumption at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso could easily eat up a larger and larger portion of the university’s budget.

However, efforts by the team in TTUHSC El Paso’s Physical Plant and Support Services have led to a 14.6% reduction in energy use during the past three years, despite the campus’ square footage growing by 11.5%.

The energy savings have been part of a long-term effort to improve equipment and gain more control of cooling and heating in university buildings, said Leopoldo Pereyra, managing director of Physical Plant and Support Services.

The effort began back in 2010, as the university slowly began to fill buildings that had not been at capacity.

“We identified some issues in how the energy was managed,” Pereyra said. “There were several infrastructure upgrades that needed to be done to prepare the university for the future. We needed updates on the controls and mechanical systems. Because energy costs are a significant amount of the university’s budget, that’s where we need to concentrate if we want to find savings.”

The upgrades began paying off in 2015, Pereyra said, with annual energy savings of about 6%. Those savings have continued to be put back into upgrades to gain further energy consumption reductions.

One ongoing upgrade effort that can be seen around campus is the upgrade to LED lighting, which consumes less energy.

“We’ve already upgraded all main hallways of the Medical Education Building, numerous areas in the Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso clinics, the Academic Education Center and the Medical Sciences Building I,” Pereyra said. “And just recently, the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing invested their own funding into upgrading the lighting of their building. So that building is top of the line in mechanical equipment and lighting fixtures. We are in excellent shape for the future, especially with the conservation culture we have developed at TTUHSC El Paso.”

“TTUHSC El Paso employees play a big role in helping the university consume less energy and help empower the campus community to be good stewards of private and public funding,” Pereyra added.

“One very important thing is to turn off the lights,” Pereyra said. “Once they leave their offices, turn off everything that is drawing electrical current: the computers, the lights. That’s a big help. The campus can help us obtain our goals. It may seem like a small thing, but if you have staff and students doing the same thing, it can add up to big savings.”

The energy use reductions helped the university save more than $500,000 from 2015 to 2018.

TTUHSC El Paso Professor Named Neurocritical Care Society Fellow

Salvador Cruz-Flores, M.D., M.P.H., professor and founding chair of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s department of neurology at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, has been elected a Fellow of the Neurocritical Care Society.

“We’ve done good work in El Paso in creating the Comprehensive Stroke Center,” Dr. Cruz-Flores said.

“This is a nice recognition, as it acknowledges the work we have done to improve the care of patients, increase neurological knowledge and educate the medical and lay communities about stroke and other neurological emergencies.”

Dr. Cruz-Flores, who also serves as University Medical Center of El Paso’s neurocritical care medical director, said being named a fellow is a recognition of his part in improving neurocritical care in El Paso, including his role in opening the first neurocritical care unit at UMC and in obtaining the hospital’s Comprehensive Stroke Center and Level I Stroke Center designations last year by The Joint Commission and the State of Texas, respectively.

UMC is the first and only hospital in El Paso with these designations.

The NCS is a multidisciplinary, international organization whose mission is to improve outcomes for patients with critical neurological illnesses.

Becoming a fellow of the society is based on contributions to the field of neurocritical care in the areas of professionalism, collaborative multi-professional practice, program development, scholarly activity and leadership.

TTUHSC El Paso Professor Named Editor-In-Chief of Journal of Investigative Medicine

Richard W. McCallum, M.D., FACP, FRACP (AUST), FACG, AGAF, professor and founding chair of the department of internal medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso), has been appointed editor-in-chief of the Journal of Investigative Medicine (JIM), the official publication of the American Federation for Medical Research, in collaboration with the British Medical Journal.

Dr. McCallum is also an honorary professor at the University of Queensland Medical School in Brisbane, Australia.

Dr. McCallum, a gastroenterology specialist who currently directs the Center for Neurogastroenterology and GI Motility, enters this prestigious position with years of editorial experience with numerous medical research journals. He is currently the editor-in-chief of Gastrointestinal Disorders, an online medical journal based in Basel, Switzerland.

The Journal of Investigative Medicine covers all topics and specialty areas related to laboratory, translational and clinical biomedical research.

“The journal is the kind of publication that all junior faculty aspire to publish in,” Dr. McCallum said. “I am mentoring my young faculty to submit their abstracts and go to the appropriate medical meetings and conferences with one of the goals being to–hopefully–publish in this journal.”

As editor-in-chief, Dr. McCallum plans to implement some new ideas for the publication.

“One of my goals for the journal is to be more personable and hands-on while continuing to produce quality articles and improve impact factor,” he said. Dr. McCallum also wants to use his role to assist faculty with mentoring, career development and academic advancement.

Dr. McCallum said another plus for the university is the association with the American Federation for Medical Research. The federation is an international, multidisciplinary association of scientists with a history that reaches back to 1940.

TTUHSC El Paso is “at the national level now,” Dr. McCallum said. “We’re competing with more established medical schools around the nation, and being associated with this journal is an incentive for our university to aspire to achieve higher standards and maintain national recognition.”

Coldwell Foundation donates $100k for Study of Anti-Pancreatic Cancer Agent

The Lizanell and Colbert Coldwell Foundation has donated $100,000 to help Ramadevi Subramani Reddy, Ph.D., study a potential treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Subramani Reddy, a researcher at the Center of Emphasis in Cancer Research at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, is studying the anti-cancer effects of gedunin, a natural compound from the Azadirachta indica tree native to the Indian subcontinent.

Early research suggests gedunin could serve as an anti-cancer agent against pancreatic cancers.

Though pancreatic cancer survival rates have been improving, the disease is still largely considered incurable. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is 9 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.

Nearly 46,000 people will die nationwide of pancreatic cancer in 2019.

The Lizanell and Colbert Coldwell Foundation gives to Texas organizations to further the advancement of medical sciences, and research institutions dedicated to medical research, especially for the cure and prevention of heart disease and cancer.

$3M gift by Rick, Ginger Francis to TTUHSC El Paso will be matched by University

On Tuesday, officials with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso), along with the Paso Del Norte Community Foundation and Rick and Ginger Francis, announced a $3 million gift to the university.

“We love El Paso and the borderland region and feel it is important to make a difference on our watch,” Rick and Ginger Francis said. “We’ve had success and we want to share that success with the community, leaving it a better place for future generations.”

The Francis’ $3 million gift to TTUHSC El Paso will go to endow four deanships, as well as the endowed chair for the TTUHSC El Paso president, named in their honor.

This gift will be matched by TTUHSC El Paso, doubling its impact.

“Endowed positions allow us to attract and retain talented leadership from across the country who embody our university’s mission. That is what we have done in assembling an exceptional group of deans for our university,” said TTUHSC President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A. “Endowed deanships are one of the greatest ways to amplify what we do best here at TTUHSC El Paso: educate the next generation of health care professionals and conduct research on health issues affecting our border population.”

“TTUHSC El Paso has created an institution that will forever impact El Paso with new educational opportunities for future generations,” Rick and Ginger Francis said. “This gift will go toward the next phase of attracting the best and brightest faculty to help propel the university forward.”

Additionally, the Francis have established the Ginger G. and L. Frederick Francis Foundation in the Paso del Norte Community Foundation.

Tracy Yellen, CEO of the PDN Community Foundation, said the gift illustrates the collaboration needed to push the West Texas region forward.

“Rick and Ginger established the Ginger G. and L. Frederick Francis Foundation as a donor advised fund in the Paso del Norte Community Foundation to facilitate their charitable giving and support organizations like TTUHSC El Paso that are essential to the future of our region,” Yellen said. “We are honored to partner with Rick and Ginger and TTUHSC El Paso in this way. It is a testament to Rick and Ginger’s leadership and generosity, and the power of collaboration.”

The gift comes as the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine celebrates its 10-year anniversary. TTUHSC El Paso would not be what it is today without the generous support of many champions, including Rick and Ginger Francis — Texas Tech alumni with a long and meaningful history of leadership and giving.

University officials add that, Rick and Ginger Francis were among the earliest and most ardent supporters of TTUHSC El Paso before shovels even broke ground on what is the campus today.

TTUHSC El Paso will be the only health sciences center in Texas to have all its deanships endowed. The deans lead the four schools that comprise TTUHSC El Paso: the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and – coming in 2021 – the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine.

UTEP Awarded $324k grant to expand Men’s Diabetes Program

The Diabetes Garage, a men’s diabetes management and self-care program, will offer men in Texas who have the disease the gift of health to last a lifetime.

With support from a $324,800 grant, Jeannie Concha, Ph.D., assistant professor in UTEP’s Department of Public Health Sciences, will implement the program in El Paso and in two other Texas cities by 2021.

Concha received the grant from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Despite the availability of diabetes treatment and management programs in clinical and community settings, men remain underserved,” Concha said. “The Diabetes Garage was created to provide men a space where they could talk about their diabetes with other men. What we are also finding is the men come to the garage with a lot of information and a lot of misinformation about diabetes. The Diabetes Garage is a place to help men organize and prioritize accurate information to meet their needs.”

Created by UTEP in collaboration with the El Paso Diabetes Association (EPDA), Southwest University, University Medical Center, and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, the Diabetes Garage uses automotive maintenance and repair analogies to engage men in diabetes education and support sessions.

They learn how to manage their glucose and prevent diabetes-related complications, such as limb amputations, impotence, blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes.

According to the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, men of Mexican descent are 150% more likely to have diabetes compared with non-Hispanic white individuals. Hispanic men also are 50% more likely to die from diabetes or chronic liver disease.

Concha will lead the project with co-principle investigators Gregory Schober, Ph.D., visiting political science professor, and Laura Gonzales, Ph.D., English assistant professor.

They will work with Texas DSHS to implement the program in El Paso County, San Antonio, and Harlingen.

Funds also will be used to enhance the services provided by The Diabetes Garage in El Paso County. The program is currently recruiting men with type 2 diabetes to participate in sessions offered at the EPDA located at 3641 Mattox Street

The next available Diabetes Garage series will be offered from 5-8 p.m. Aug. 20, 6-8 p.m. Aug. 27, 6-8 p.m. Sept. 3, 5-8 p.m. Sept. 10, and every other month thereafter. Participants will receive a Diabetes Maintenance Manual, Diabetes Essentials Toolbox with a glucose and blood pressure monitor, and certificate of completion.

For residents wishing to register, call the El Paso Diabetes Association at 915-532-6280 or email

McKee Foundation gives $10k to Support Southwest Brain Bank

For the third consecutive year, the El Paso-based Robert E. and Evelyn McKee Foundation has donated $10,000 to the Southwest Brain Bank at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

The Brain Bank is a research organization that collects, studies and distributes brain tissue to scientists who study mental disorders. Studying brain tissue enables scientists to develop new approaches to diagnosis and improve treatments. Obtaining brain tissue from those with and without illnesses is essential to continue this important work.

The McKee Foundation has a history of philanthropy going back to 1952. TTUHSC El Paso was honored to join the list of organizations the foundation supports when it first donated to the Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso Breast Care Center in 1995.

Since then, the foundation has donated more than $130,000 to the university — most recently, three annual $10,000 gifts to the Southwest Brain Bank

Louis McKee is the only surviving child of Robert and Evelyn McKee’s eight children. Louis McKee, 84, has been a trustee since 1958 and is now president of the McKee Foundation.

Based in El Paso, Robert McKee ran what was, at the time, the “world’s largest individually owned construction company,” Louis McKee said. The foundation’s office is full of the history of Robert McKee’s construction business, as well as the history of the foundation. Louis McKee works hard keeping that history alive, writing books and creating DVDs that tell his parents’ story.

“We’ve given away nearly $17 million since 1952, despite the fact that we’re not a large foundation, just one that my mother and dad created,” Louis McKee said. “I think they would be glad to see it continuing the way it is.”

Lawmakers approve funding for Hunt School of Dental Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso

The Texas Legislature has approved a $250.7 billion, two-year state budget that includes an appropriation of $20 million to establish the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

The Hunt School of Dental Medicine, expected to welcome its first class of students in 2021, will be the first in Texas in over 50 years and the very first at a health sciences center based on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We are very pleased that our state lawmakers recognized the need to close the gaps of dental health disparities in West Texas and support the creation of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine in El Paso,” said TTUHSC El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A. “I applaud our El Paso legislative delegation for their work in pursuing funding for the school, and thank the community for supporting our vision of improved dental health care for the Borderland and West Texas.”

El Paso has a 57 percent shortage of general dentists compared to the national average, and is designated as a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The vision of a dental school for the region became a reality in 2016 when businessman Woody L. Hunt and his wife Gayle gifted $25 million to TTUHSC El Paso through the Hunt Family Foundation to establish the school.

That gift was soon followed by a $6 million grant from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation to fund the dental school’s curriculum.

The Hunt School of Dental Medicine will be housed in the five-story Medical Sciences Building II, now under construction on the TTUHSC El Paso campus.

The 86th Texas Legislative Session concluded on Monday, May 27. The spending bill now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for his signature.

GECU presents donations to TTUHSC El Paso; Will support Nursing, Student Run Clinic

On Tuesday, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso officials thanked GECU for their donation in support of improved health care for the West Texas region.

“We are so grateful to be a part of the incredible work and impact that Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso is making in our community,” Long said. “We hope that students will achieve their goals through the incomparable resources and opportunities that TTUHSC El Paso provides. We are so proud to partner with universities that believe in the value of education.”

GECU announced a gift of $5,000 to go toward nursing scholarships, and $4,000 in support of the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine’s Medical Student Run Clinic.

Andrea Tawney, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement at TTUHSC El Paso, said she was thankful for GECU’s commitment to health care in West Texas.

“TTUHSC El Paso is happy to be ‘Teamed Up For Health’ with GECU,” Tawney said. “The Medical Student Run Clinic does such important work for the community of Sparks, bringing health care to an underserved area. Scholarships are an investment in students who have a calling to serve our community as nurses. Support from our partners is critical for our students to succeed but also inspire them to push forward and complete their nursing degree.”

The Medical Student Run Clinic provides free primary health care screenings and other health care services to the Sparks community in Far East El Paso County.

Volunteer work at the clinic provides students from the Foster School of Medicine with an opportunity to work in a real clinical environment while also developing a relationship with the community.

In a show of solidarity, GECU President and CEO Crystal Long declared Tuesday as TTUHSC El Paso day with GECU.

TTUHSC El Paso and GECU team members donned “Teamed Up for Health” T-shirts, symbolizing the positive impact the collaboration will have.

Gallery+Story: The Journey Home – An El Paso Micro-Preemie defies odds

A baby who weighed just over a pound when she was born last fall is now at home, happy and healthy in her mother’s arms.

Carla Duran gave birth to Camila Duran in November, four months before she was due. Weighing only 1 pound, 4 ounces and at 22 weeks gestation, Camila was considered a “micro-preemie” – a special patient that would require lots of care to beat an extremely low survival rate of 0 to 5 percent.

But little Camila is a fighter. On March 6, she was discharged from El Paso Children’s Hospital without any major health problems.

“She just has mild respiratory illness, which is not un-expected for a baby born at extreme prematurity,” said Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso pediatrician Devaraj Sambalingam, M.D., FAAP, who helped deliver Camila.  TTP El Paso is the clinical arm of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

Dr. Sambalingam is part of the team who cared for Camila in The Laura & Pat Gordon Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Level IV at El Paso Children’s Hospital. He said Camila went home on oxygen support, which is normal in cases like this, and would soon be weaned off the oxygen as her lungs grew stronger.

Dr. Sambalingam said it is rare for a baby born so premature to survive without significant health issues. According to a 2017 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, babies born between 22 and 24 weeks gestation have a very low chance of survival, and if they do survive, are likely to have serious neurological problems.

Throughout the duration of the study, only one percent of babies born at 22 weeks’ gestation survived without neurodevelopmental impairment.

TTP El Paso pediatrician Ajay Pratap Singh, M.D., FAAP, who delivered Camila and has cared for her since birth, said medical teams that deal with complicated births “have to be ready for all eventualities.”

“We were actually prepared for this baby to not make it,” Dr. Singh said. “To see this baby go home is a very happy, joyous moment for us. This is a miracle child for us, and I will remember her for the rest of my life.”

It’s an experience mother Carla Duran will never forget either. She said two weeks before her daughter was born, she felt something was not quite right. Speaking in Spanish, Carla Duran described it as an “unusual pressure” within her body.

“Every time I walked, I felt like I needed to rest, because it felt like I needed to go to the restroom,” Carla Duran said.

A few days later, she went to the restroom and discovered she was bleeding. She was taken to University Medical Center of El Paso and was told she could not leave because she was already completely dilated.

Four months earlier than anticipated, it was time to bring Camila into the world.

After a successful delivery, Camila was placed in the Level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at El Paso Children’s Hospital.

For weeks, physicians, nurses and other members of the neonatal team remained by her and her family’s side as Camila gradually gained weight and reached the milestones necessary to be released from the NICU.

“I thank God for all the doctors here, and that God enlightened them to take care of my daughter,” Duran said. “I thank them for helping my little girl so much. They were there always attending to her, helping to do all they could and more.”

While doctors, much like quarterbacks on a football team, tend to get credited with success, Dr. Singh is quick to point out it’s a team effort to provide the best health care for patients.

UMC, El Paso Children’s Hospital and TTP El Paso work in partnership on cases such as Camila’s premature birth and decide on a course of action for the patient.

“As a doctor, we are automatically given credit for something which is not truly dependent on us,” Dr. Singh said. “We do play a part, but it’s a combined-multitude, multidisciplinary team effort — from the bedside nurse, to the volunteers, to the respiratory therapist, to the speech therapist, to the radiologists, and to other specialists. It is not just me. It is everybody who works here.”

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