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Home | Tag Archives: TTUHSC El Paso

Tag Archives: TTUHSC El Paso

Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso Clinics reopen for In-Person Appointments

Officials with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso announced Monday that their clinics are now open for regular, in-person appointments in addition to telemedicine appointments.

Since March, TTP El Paso clinics have cared for patients through telemedicine services, as a safety precaution during the local COVID-19 outbreak.

During telemedicine visits, patients and physicians use a secure video link to conduct the appointment.

“Today, the clinics are pleased to announce the return of in-person appointments, and our physicians welcome current and new patients to our clinics across El Paso,” TTP El Paso officials shared.

“We understand patients and their families may have concerns about visiting a doctor’s office due to the pandemic, but it’s important not to put one’s health care needs on hold – delaying care can result in further complications.”

As they welcome patients back to the clinics, officials say they’re taking “every possible precaution to ensure patient safety and access to the same high-quality care they have come to expect from our physicians.”

Here is what TTP El Paso is doing to protect patients from COVID-19 exposure:

  • All TTP El Paso providers and staff are screened for COVID-19 symptoms before entering the office.
  • All providers and staff wear masks and other appropriate protective equipment.
  • All patients are screened for COVID-19 symptoms before arriving for their appointments. Social distancing measures are enforced in patient waiting areas.
  • TTP El Paso clinics have limited visitors to help maintain safety precautions.

For those visiting to the clinic in person:

  • Arrive at least 20 minutes before your appointment. You will be asked a few questions upon arriving to guide you to the appropriate access to your appointment.
  • Wash your hands well before coming to and after leaving the clinic.
  • Bring and wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose at all times.
  • Avoid bringing others into the clinic with you unless absolutely necessary.
  • Please follow signs and staff instructions to reach the location for your appointment, which may have changed.

If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough or shortness of breath:

  • Call the clinic in advance and describe your symptoms. Our physicians may be able to provide a phone or online visit.
  • When you leave home, use a mask to cover your nose and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid public transportation and close contact with others as much as possible, at home and outside the home.
  • If you do not have a mask when you arrive at the clinic, ask for a mask, place it over your nose and mouth, and describe your symptoms to the receiving staff.
  • After a few basic questions, you may be directed to a separate access and/or waiting area for your check-in process.

For more information on clinic locations and hours, and to make an appointment, visit

Video+Gallery+Story: TTUHSC El Paso, UTEP develop ‘Texas Breather,’ low cost, 3D-printed ventilator for hospitals

Nationwide, hospitals are concerned about a possible shortage of ventilators as more Americans require treatment for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus disease that can cause life-threatening respiratory problems such as pneumonia.

A collaboration between Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and the University of Texas at El Paso could help solve the problem. Using 3D printing, the team of physicians and engineers have developed an innovative, low-cost ventilator for the health care sector.

Scott Crawford, M.D., associate professor and director of TTUHSC El Paso’s Training and Educational Center for Healthcare Simulation (TECHS), is helping lead the initiative to manufacture the shoebox-sized devices, dubbed the Texas Power Bag Breather, or Texas Breather.

“This low-cost ventilator would be used if existing mechanical ventilators were not available in any setting requiring assisted breathing,” Dr. Crawford said. “While there’s a particular need in third-world and developing nations, if an industrialized nation became overwhelmed, it could help in those regions as well.”

The Texas Breather design was developed by Dr. Crawford; retired TTUHSC El Paso faculty member Robert Stump, M.D., Ph.D.; and Luis Ochoa, a manager at the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation in UTEP’s College of Engineering. After two weeks of prototyping six iterations of the device, Ochoa requested support from UTEP Keck Center Director Ryan Wicker, Ph.D., to put the full resources of the center behind the project.

“Dr. Crawford, Dr. Stump and Luis converged on a simple, yet elegant and innovative concept that capitalized on the strengths of additive manufacturing,” Wicker said. “Recognizing the need and the potential clinical advantages of the design, this was a perfect application of the Keck Center’s rapid-response engineering capabilities. More than a dozen individuals, including faculty, staff and students, immediately focused 100% effort on getting the design finalized for reliability testing. We combined simulation, design interaction, and rapid prototyping and testing to respond in a pandemic timescale. I am very proud of Luis and the entire Keck team for how quickly we came together to try and make a difference during this pandemic.”

The team has requested an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow health care workers to use the Texas Breather during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hospital ventilators can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but Dr. Crawford believes the Texas Breather can be made using currently available 3D technology for less than $1,000 per unit, thanks to the design’s simplicity. He said each device would take about eight hours to produce.

The main cost-and-time saving innovation of the Texas Breather involves the incorporation of relatively inexpensive bag-valve mask devices that are available in large quantities at hospitals. First responders and emergency health care teams use bag-valve masks to manually provide ventilation to patients who are not breathing or are having trouble breathing.

Close collaboration between the TTUHSC El Paso board-certified emergency physicians and their teams, and the faculty, engineers and students in the Keck Center at UTEP was key to rapidly refining the design of the Texas Breather. The device mounts to an IV pole at the patient’s bedside and provides an adjustable airflow volume and respiratory rate. All mechanical components are fabricated with production-grade material and have successfully passed simulated-use and worst-case scenario testing.

The team used advanced respiratory simulation tools in the TECHS center to test and calibrate the device. These tools, used by TTUHSC El Paso students to study respiratory physiology, played an important part in validating the safety and functionality of the Texas Breather.

“Being able to accurately record the pressure, volume and airflow of the Texas Breather was a key element for pursuing emergency use authorization from the FDA. We’re fortunate to have access to these specialty simulation tools at TECHS,” Dr. Crawford said.

UTEP used a Stratasys 3D printer to produce parts to assemble the Texas Breather devices. Dr. Crawford said the team has produced working prototypes, and with additional funding, large-scale production using 3D printing could produce hundreds per week.

Ochoa, who has been working with Stratasys equipment for nearly two decades, translated the doctors’ design concepts into reality. The team used computer simulation to refine the design, which reduced the number of design-build-test cycles and shortened the development process by weeks. This expertise in UTEP’s Keck Center in close collaboration with the TTUHSC El Paso doctors was the key to success.

Key industry partners of the Keck Center also contributed to the development of the Texas Breather. Medical device professionals from Bessel LLC helped prepare for FDA submission, simulation software maker Ansys Inc. assisted UTEP engineers with extensive simulations, and Stratasys Inc. donated prototypes and materials for fabrication.

Stormy Monks, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Foster School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso, and Jesica Urbina, Ph.D., TECHS senior research associate, are working to secure grants to support production of the Texas Breather. Victor Torres, TECHS innovation engineer, and Joel Libove, Ph.D., are assisting in the final design of electrical controls for the ventilator.

“We have the goal of sharing our invention for general use but are pursuing grant funding for manufacturing on a large scale,” Dr. Crawford said. “We would like to produce 1,000 to 2,000 units to assist with the projected deficit of ventilators in American hospitals.”

TTUHSC El Paso Student Government Association to hold Candlelight Vigil

As the one-month anniversary of George Floyds senseless death in Minneapolis approaches, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso students invite the El Paso community to join in a student-led candlelight vigil to be held this week.

The vigil, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, June 25, will be held in remembrance of those who’ve been killed as a result of racism, police brutality and social injustice.

“Our TTUHSC El Paso students are working to keep the momentum of this historic movement going and not allow its energy to fade.,” organizers shared via an emailed news release.

“We support the efforts of our future health care professionals who believe that we must continue finding ways to shine a light on progress toward genuine equality and systemic change.”

According to organizers, all members of our El Paso community – including our partner hospitals, and students from the University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College – to gather with them at the center of the campus for an evening of “reflection, remembrance and resolve to change the future.”

The program includes a candlelit moment of silence, keynote speaker and musical guest; and attendees are expected to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

WHO: TTUHSC El Paso Student Government Association

WHAT: Candlelight vigil in remembrance of those killed as a result of social injustice

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, June 25

WHERE: TTUHSC El Paso campus, Medical Education Building (MEB) lawn, 5001 El Paso Drive

UTEP, TTUHSC El Paso, NMSU, EPCC, DACC unite to encourage community blood donations

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso), New Mexico State University, El Paso Community College and Doña Ana Community College are uniting efforts to encourage the community to donate blood and save lives.

A combined goal of 100 pints of blood is set for a two-day blood drive that will take place on the UTEP and TTUHSC El Paso campuses.

The blood drive will take place from noon to 6 p.m., June 25 and 26 at the El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center on the UTEP campus and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., June 25 in Academic Education Classroom 221 on the TTUHSC El Paso campus.

“It’s great to see UTEP and all other universities working together to assure there is blood on the shelves for the community we serve; it’s truly amazing!” said Martin Gomez, donor recruitment manager at Vitalant.

“Blood should always be there waiting for patients. Patients should never have to wait for the blood.”

To ensure that blood donors are in a safe environment that upholds local health ordinances and social distancing protocols, appointments made in advance are required.

Appointments can be made at (search for sponsor code “UTEP” or “TexasTech”) or by calling 877-258-4825.

Blood donors are required to wear face coverings during the drive.

Chase $5k Donation to help TTUHSC El Paso Students during COVID-19 Pandemic

Monday morning, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso officials announced a $5,000 contribution from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to the university’s Student Frontline Emergency Fund.

“JPMorgan Chase remains committed to helping the El Paso community,” said JPMorgan Chase Market Executive Ruben Hernandez. “TTUHSC El Paso and our future health care heroes are an integral and growing part of the community, and we’re honored to help support them during this time of need and uncertainty.”

The Student Frontline Emergency Fund was created to assist TTUHSC El Paso students who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses due to temporary hardship or unforeseen emergencies related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund provides needed relief to address the current and future needs of students who are serving in local hospitals during their clinical rotations as the pandemic continues.

Support from the emergency fund ensures students are able to stay on track with their degree program without being derailed by financial hardship.

To date, as many as 200 TTUHSC El Paso students have either requested assistance or are projected to request assistance. The total amount of emergency aid required could reach as much as $500,000, as need is expected to continue in the aftermath of the pandemic.

As a result of the local impact of COVID-19, vulnerable students face financial hardships including reduced income and unexpected expenses. These funds will assist them with basic needs, including rent, groceries, personal items and other essentials.

“Generous donations from community partners like JPMorgan Chase help increase the percentage of students who graduate on time, easing the shortage of health care professionals in the Paso del Norte region, especially during these unprecedented times,” TTUHSC El Paso officials added.

Contributions to the TTUHSC El Paso Student Frontline Emergency Fund can be made via this link.

TTUHSC El Paso shares celebration of Commencements for Foster School of Medicine, Hunt School of Nursing and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

This year, nearly to 18,000 family and friends across the globe logged onto Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s Facebook and YouTube pages to celebrate the graduation of students from the university’s three schools.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of traditional Spring 2020 commencement ceremonies at TTUHSC El Paso, each student was highlighted during virtual ceremonies with an individual photo slide that included their hometown, any honors and distinctions, and post-graduate plans.

The goal was to make the experience memorable for students and their families and expand participation even beyond those who would normally attend to cheer on their graduates.

With social distancing guidelines in place, commencement ceremonies for the Hunt School of Nursing and GSBS were streamed on Facebook on May 9, while the Foster School of Medicine’s ceremony streamed on May 22.

All three ceremonies have been archived and can be viewed on-demand at TTUHSC El Paso‘s virtual commencement website.

Foster School of Medicine

The 88-member class of 2020 includes 16 medical students who matched to residency programs in El Paso; 15 of those matched to programs at TTUHSC El Paso. This is just shy of the record 18 Foster School of Medicine students who matched to residencies in El Paso in Spring 2019.

Medical residents often remain in the region in which they are trained, fulfilling the Foster School of Medicine’s mission to increase the number of practicing physicians in the El Paso region.

Fifty-three percent of this year’s graduates matched to residencies in Texas, and 57% will enter residencies in primary care specialties.

Servando Rivera is a native El Pasoan and proud graduate of the Foster School of Medicine’s Class of 2020 who will begin a residency in emergency medicine at TTUHSC El Paso. He said it means the world to him to have the opportunity to practice medicine where his family lives.

“Catering to the border community has always been a priority to me, and now the opportunity to stay here has made my dream come true,” said Rivera, who earned a Master of Science from the GSBS prior to enrolling in the Foster School of Medicine.

When the Foster School of Medicine opened its doors in 2009, there was a 75% shortage of physicians in El Paso compared to the national average. Since that time, the medical school has graduated more than 520 students, and the comparative shortage of physicians in El Paso has been reduced to 50%.

From 2009 to 2019, the number of doctors in El Paso grew by 51%, from 1,068 to 1,613, according to the most recent data available.

Hunt School of Nursing

For the second consecutive year, the Hunt School of Nursing’s graduating class received the DAISY In Training Award from the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Foundation for their important roles in local hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The DAISY Foundation was created to honor and celebrate the care and compassion of direct care nurses, nursing faculty and nursing students.

The Hunt School of Nursing’s Winter 2019 graduating class received the award after assisting at area hospitals following the Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart.

The nursing school’s commencement honored 75 graduates of the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program and 11 graduates of the R.N. to B.S.N. program. Four students made university history as the first to graduate from the Hunt School of Nursing with a Master of Science in Nursing.

Students in the Accelerated B.S.N. program take up to 17 credit hours per semester for four successive semesters. The rigorous program allows students to graduate in 16 months after working through a curriculum designed for cross-disciplinary collaboration. This is the only accelerated nursing program in the region.

To date, the Hunt School of Nursing has graduated more than 600 students with 90% of those graduates staying in the region. The school of nursing currently has partnerships with every hospital in the El Paso community, which includes both clinical rotation opportunities and job placements post-graduation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse for the vital role they play in providing health services.

TTUHSC El Paso will join the WHO in a year-long effort to celebrate the work of nurses.

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

The GSBS honored 23 graduates of the Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences program and 10 graduates of the school’s post-baccalaureate certificate program.

The mission of the GSBS is to educate the next generation of scientists and health-related professionals by providing a dynamic research environment. The GSBS is oriented to satisfy the learning needs of a multicultural group of students by fostering creativity and discovery.

Most GSBS graduates attend medical or dental school or pursue their Ph.D. after graduation.

TTUHSC El Paso, Esperanto Developments partner to provide safe accommodations for Nursing Students on the Front Lines

The hospitality industry is doing its part to lend a helping hand as the COVID-19 health crisis continues. Esperanto Developments, an El Paso hotel management company, has partnered with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso to donate the free use of hotel rooms for students from the Hunt School of Nursing.

Three hotel rooms have been made available to accommodate individual nursing students completing clinical rounds at hospitals who need a place to stay while isolating for the safety and health of their families. H

Hunt School of Nursing student Jenny Moya is a participant in the free hotel room program.

“Being a nursing student who wants nothing more than to care for patients in their time of need, it’s helpful to have a hotel to isolate after a weekend of clinicals,” Moya said. “It has given me peace of mind that I am keeping my family safe while doing what I am passionate about, which is caring for others.”

The rooms, each with their own kitchen areas, are offered at Hawthorne Suites by Wyndham in El Paso, an extended-stay hotel managed by Esperanto Developments. Students can stay for 14 nights. The generous donation will provide temporary housing to students who otherwise would have to spend their own money on accommodations.

“My family and I are very grateful for the opportunity being given to me to continue on with clinicals,” Moya said. “This allows me to continue my journey as a nursing student and push forward to the summer semester.”

Esperanto Developments believes it is important to give back to the community in these trying times and support those on the front lines during the pandemic. This is one of the many ways local companies are showing support for nurses as the country celebrates National Nurses Week 2020, May 6 – 12.

“We are proud and honored to partner up with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso,” said Marianne Rosas-Ayub, corporate director of sales and marketing for Esperanto Developments. “We appreciate all the effort and sacrifice the staff and students have put in to help fight this pandemic. We thank them and want them to know we are here for them.”

Lindsay Hendryx, another Hunt School of Nursing student, also decided to stay in a free hotel room while completing her clinical rotations. She lives with her 80-year-old grandmother and recognizes the importance of keeping her safe.

“As COVID-19 became more apparent in El Paso, we began making changes to reduce her risk,” Hendryx said. “However, as my nursing classes moved online, I was wary that my clinical attendance would bring home an unfair risk to her. I chose not to attend clinicals until we found a safe solution, with the understanding that my nursing degree could face a delay.”

Hendryx said the donation of hotel rooms by Esperanto Developments allowed her to complete her remaining clinical hours this semester. “I look forward to soon repaying the generosity I have received from this donation when I become a nurse,” she said.

As of 2019, the Hunt School of Nursing has graduated more than 600 students. Ninety percent of graduates stay in the Borderland region, according to school officials.

The school of nursing currently has partnerships with every hospital in the El Paso community, which includes both clinical rotation opportunities and job placements post-graduation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse for the vital role they play in providing health services.

TTUHSC El Paso will join the WHO in a year-long effort to celebrate the work of nurses and highlight the challenging conditions they often face in the workforce.

TTUHSC El Paso celebrates National Nurses Week, All 86 students in Hunt School of Nursing complete clinical hours

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El PasoHunt School of Nursing kicked off National Nurses Week by announcing all 86 students in its graduating class have completed clinical hours required for graduation.

National Nurses Week, which begins each year on May 6 and ends May 12, recognizes the immeasurable contributions and impact nurses have on the lives of people in our community.

TTUHSC El Paso will honor the nurses and nursing students on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic who have tirelessly cared for members of the community during this difficult time.

Our nursing students have committed to an accelerated program, which is 16 months rather than 24 months, and have sacrificed jobs, and an income, while they work toward their degree,” said Stephanie L. Woods, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the Hunt School of Nursing.

Our faculty was faced with the question: How do you weigh the risk and benefit of asking our students to help patients with a virus that still comes with so many unknowns? Our students helped answer the question for us by responding overwhelmingly that completing their degree was their number one priority.

As of 2019, the Hunt School of Nursing has graduated more than 600 students, with 90% of those graduates staying in the region. The school of nursing currently has partnerships with every hospital in the El Paso community, which includes both clinical rotation opportunities and job placements post-graduation.

To celebrate National Nurses Week, TTUHSC El Paso will host an appreciation breakfast on May 7 for nurses and nursing students at teaching hospitals, including University Medical Center of El Paso, El Paso Childrens Hospital and The Hospitals of Providence – Transmountain Campus.

More than 500 meals will be provided through a donation from Bruce and Jackie Gulbas. Bruce Gulbas is president of National Restaurant Supply and a member of the TTUHSC El Paso Presidents Development Council.

The nursing students at the Hunt School of Nursing have proven to be the true heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bruce Gulbas. Not only are they risking their lives every day to protect our community, but they are also determined to finish the clinical hours needed for graduation. This determination and selflessness are perfect examples of how the community is coming together during these critical times. We thought this was just one small way we could show how truly appreciative we are of their sacrifices.

For the entire week, TTUHSC El Paso will honor nurses in the community in a number of ways, including free meals, student testimonials and new donor announcements.

TTUHSC El Paso will also celebrate nurses with congratulatory messages on giant “greeting card” yard signs from Card My Yard, displayed outside of multiple El Paso hospitals during National Nurses Week. Nurses are encouraged to take photos in front of the signs and tag TTUHSC El Paso on Facebook (@TTUHSCEP), Twitter (@TTUHSCEP) or Instagram (@TTUHSCEP).

The celebration week will also include a virtual commencement ceremony for the Hunt School of Nursing, held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 9, via Facebook Live.

The virtual ceremony will follow traditional ceremony programs, with remarks from Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., president of TTUHSC El Paso, and Stephanie L. Woods, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the Hunt School of Nursing.

As each name is read, a photo of the graduate will be shown on screen. To watch the ceremony this weekend, click here.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse for the vital role they play in providing health services.

TTUHSC El Paso will join the WHO in a year-long effort to celebrate the work of nurses and highlighting the challenging conditions they often face in the workforce.

In July, nursing students in the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing (GGHSON) began their first clinical rotations at The Hospitals of Providence Transmountain Campus. The group of 10 students began their shifts as part of the school’s Chronic Care in Nursing course.


TTUHSC El Paso’s President’s Development Council works to connect Donors with Philanthropic Opportunities

Following the Foster School of Medicine’s 10-year anniversary celebration, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s inaugural President’s Development Council is now working to build the next generation of growth in research, health care and education for our community.

“The President’s Development Council, made up of El Paso community leaders, meets to focus on connecting donors with philanthropic opportunities at TTUHSC El Paso,” TTUHSC officials shared Tuesday morning. “This includes expanding excellence in health care across the Paso del Norte region and preparing the university’s future nurses, physicians, researchers, and soon, dentists.”

The council is chaired by L. Frederick “Rick” Francis, Chairman and CEO of WestStar Bank. Francis works with Richard Lange, M.D., President of TTUHSC El Paso and Andrea Tawney, Ph.D., Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement at TTUHSC El Paso, to engage council members in achieving the university’s mission through the support of private contributions.

The council was instrumental in the fundraising campaign that yielded $775,000 for medical student scholarships as part of the recent 10-year anniversary celebration of the Foster School of Medicine.

New members appointed to the TTUHSC El Paso President’s Development Council in January 2020:

Charles de Wetter, Broker, Coldwell Banker Legacy
Term: January 2020 – December 2021

Margie Escudero, TTUHSC Nursing Alumna and Community Advocate
Term: January 2020 – December 2021

Bruce Gulbas, President, National Restaurant Supply
Term: January 2020 – December 2021

Ronnie Lowenfield, General Manager, Casa Ford Lincoln
Term: January 2020 – December 2021

Inaugural TTUHSC El Paso President’s Development Council members:

James A. Cardwell, Jr., President, C & R Distributing
Term: January 2019 – December 2020

Paul L. Foster, CEO, Franklin Mountain Management, LLC
Term: January 2019 – December 2020

L. Frederick Francis, Chairman and CEO, WestStar Bank
Term: January 2019 – December 2020

Anthony Furman, Community Advocate
Term: January 2019 – December 2020

Woody L. Hunt, Senior Chairman of the Board of Directors, Hunt Companies, Inc.
Term: January 2019 – December 2020

Nick LaMantia, Part Owner and General Manager-West, L&F Distributors
Term: January 2019 – December 2020

Crystal Long, President and CEO, GECU
Term: January 2019 – December 2020

Judy Robison, Community Advocate
Term: January 2019 – December 2020

Robert Snow, Chairman of the Board, Western Heritage Bank
Term: January 2019 – December 2020

Nicholas R. Tejeda, Market Chief Executive Officer, The Hospitals of Providence
Term: January 2019 – December 2020

Gene Wolf, Partner, Kemp Smith Law
Term: January 2019 – December 2020

TTUHSC El Paso, Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest distribute cookies to local health care professionals

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest teamed up to distribute Girl Scout cookies to local hospitals, the TTUHSC El Paso campus and Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso clinics to give back to the community and share a surplus of cookies.

Every year, the Girl Scout Cookie Program gives girls the opportunity to be self-sustaining while earning funds to cover Girl Scouting activities.

It is the largest female entrepreneurship program in the world and teaches Girl Scouts the five essential business skills, including money management, decision making, goal setting, business ethics, and people skills.

Recently, local shelter-in-place orders have forced Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest to prematurely stop in-person cookie sales throughout Southern New Mexico, El Paso and West Texas, leaving 72,000 boxes of cookies unsold.

Supporters of Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest have purchased cases of cookies and donated them back to the council for distribution to the military, hospitals, fire stations, police stations, EMTs and senior centers.

“Girl Scouts across our country are helping make a difference from the safety of their homes. They are making cards for senior centers, donating food to food pantries, staying in contact through virtual means with friends, family and others who need encouragement, and also donating cookies to first responders, essential workers and food banks,” said Patty Craven, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest.

“Our council is currently donating over 14,000 packages of cookies. Girls want to make sure they help give a treat to all of these deserving people and hope it puts a smile on their faces.”

In partnership with TTUHSC El Paso, cookies were delivered to El Paso Children’s Hospital, University Medical Center of El Paso, the TTUHSC El Paso campus, Texas Tech Police Department, and Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso clinics.

The delivery of 300 cases of cookies were made by TTUHSC El Paso’s President’s Development Council member Bruce Gulbas, his wife Jackie Gulbas, and TTUHSC El Paso Associate Vice Chancellor of Institutional Advancement Andrea Tawney, Ph.D.

Photos courtesy TTUHSC El Paso

TTUHSC El Paso Pediatrician offers advice on Caring for Children with Autism during COVID19 Pandemic

With schools switching to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents are struggling to coordinate their children’s schedules, assignments and online meetings.

The added stress can be even worse for parents caring for children with autism, who often experience extreme anxiety when their normal routines are disrupted.

Anacani Fonseca, M.D., a pediatrician with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, has tips for parents caring for children with autism in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Fonseca’s clinical expertise includes autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, academic difficulties and behavior concerns.

“For some kids with autism, routines are essential for the world to make sense to them,” Dr. Fonseca said. “Therefore, disruptions can be very challenging. Every child will cope differently; there are social stories available online for younger kids to help explain change. Anticipating certain challenges and trying to come up with alternatives can help. These are hard times for all of us – give your child space to cope and grieve this new normal.”

There are many activities that can be done virtually to help maintain consistent routines for children, Dr. Fonseca said. Doctor visits and some therapy services can be conducted through telehealth, and parents can set up playdates and family get-togethers through Zoom, FaceTime or Skype.

The month of April also happens to be National Autism Awareness Month, and in that spirit, Dr. Fonseca offers the following advice for parents:

The most important thing to remember is: “Do your best.” With this in mind, parents can help children who may be struggling with change by:

  • Establishing new routines and schedules, ones that work for your new reality and for your family – the routines don’t have to be “perfect.”
  • Reaching out to your support system: applied behavioral (ABA) analysis therapists, speech or occupational therapists, teachers, family and your physician.
  • Setting realistic expectations.
  • Understanding that your child’s behavior may become challenging.
  • Using props (toys or child-friendly household objects) that support your child’s participation in day-to-day activities.
  • Using “social stories” to help your child understand new situations.
  • Setting a time for your own self-care, because “caregiver burnout” is real! (This is a good time to download apps about mindfulness.)

Dr. Fonseca said parents should know that Texas Medicaid will cover ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) services for children with autism beginning in September 2020. ABA is considered an evidence-based intervention.

Locally, for children under three years, there is Pathways, an early intervention program for children considered at risk for autism. This program is offered through the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program at the Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center.

Free online webinars and teaching sessions also are available for parents. Autism Certification Center and Autism Speaks have teamed up to provide “ASD Strategies in Action” at no cost for the autism community. The goal is to provide families and communities access to evidence-based educational material, providing real-life strategies that can be applied now and into the future.

More information and strategies for coping during the pandemic are available on the Autism Speaks website.

TTUHSC El Paso announces Virtual Commencement Ceremonies for Medical, Nursing and Graduate Schools

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of traditional commencement ceremonies for universities across the nation and at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

Although social distancing guidelines are in place, TTUHSC El Paso already has plans in the works to host virtual ceremonies to honor graduates from the Foster School of Medicine, Hunt School of Nursing and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

The virtual ceremonies will follow traditional ceremony programs, with remarks from Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., president of TTUHSC El Paso and dean of the Foster School of Medicine, each of the deans for the Hunt School of Nursing and Graduate School, and a class representative, as well as the conferral of degrees.

As each name is read, a photo of each graduate will be shown on screen. Students also had an opportunity to submit photos throughout their journey to be included in a slideshow that will play during the virtual ceremony.

“While I recognize that a virtual ceremony cannot replace a traditional ceremony, I have worked closely with leadership across our campus to ensure that graduates are still given a moment that honors the hard work and achievements that have come from their time at TTUHSC El Paso and serving our community,” said Dr. Lange.

Graduates from the class of 2020, their friends, family members and loved ones are invited to gather via Facebook Live and recognize the many accomplishments of these students.

Students were invited to participate in the planning of virtual commencement and they emphasized keeping the formality of the ceremony but personalizing the program to remember their experiences.

The livestream can be accessed on TTUHSC El Paso’s Facebook page. Viewers will be able to comment and engage with one another during the live broadcast.

“As always, my main priority is the health and well-being of our entire TTUHSC El Paso community. Once we can safely gather to celebrate again, graduates from the class of 2020 are welcome to join our next series of physical commencement ceremonies,” said Dr. Lange.

Loved ones who wish to send a special message to their graduates, and students who wish to share their favorite memories from their time at TTUHSC El Paso, can send short video clips to the Office of Institutional Advancement at by Monday, May 11.

The video clips will be used to create a montage, which will be posted on the university’s social media channels.

Each school’s ceremony will still be held at its previously scheduled date and time; and can be seen via Facebook Live

  • Hunt School of Nursing  |  10 a.m. Saturday, May 9
  • Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences  |  2 p.m. Saturday, May 9
  • Foster School of Medicine  |  6 p.m. Friday, May 22

Following each ceremony, the broadcasts will be made available for all to view and revisit on the university’s Facebook page.

$50k Wells Fargo Grant keeps Hunt School of Nursing Students on Graduation Track during COVID-19 Pandemic

On Thursday, April 2, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso officials announced a $50,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation that will provide a safety net for nursing students facing financial challenges and unforeseen circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

School officials shared that “Wells Fargo’s generous grant will help students attending TTUHSC El Paso’s Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing achieve their dreams of graduating and entering the workforce as soon as possible.”

TTUHSC El Paso will leverage the funds from Wells Fargo to support Hunt School of Nursing students through partnerships with Project ARRIBA and Workforce Solutions Borderplex.

“It’s important in times of community need that we all work together,” said Ryan McGrath, Wells Fargo Commercial Banking Market Executive. “We’re grateful for the leadership of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and its ability to act quickly in caring for our local residents. We hope our support provides a measure of relief as we stand with the community during this challenging situation.”

The fund will help students whose part-time jobs may have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some nursing students rely on part-time jobs or have family members that face the possibility of having their hours reduced or being laid off or furloughed.

Many nursing students remain on the frontlines working in clinical rotations in hospitals but also are without daycare options for their children. The goal of the fund is to keep students on track for graduating this May or December and entering the nursing field, where they are desperately needed.

Project ARRIBA is a community nonprofit that helps economically disadvantaged individuals gain the education, job skills and financial literacy needed for demand occupations that pay a family-sustaining, living wage in El Paso.

Since 2018, Project ARRIBA has partnered with Hunt School of Nursing and with funding from Workforce Solutions Borderplex provides students with invaluable, individualized and comprehensive case management and wrap-around support services.

A major supporter of Project ARRIBA and Workforce Solutions Borderplex, Wells Fargo has funded several programs in coordination with these two workforce and economic development organizations to advance the Hunt School of Nursing’s mission of preparing students to meet the challenges of today’s complex health care environment.

“Having access to these funds is so valuable to the students and to us,” said Stephanie Woods, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the Hunt School of Nursing. “It allows us to extend them a lifeline so that they do not get derailed in their plans to graduate.”

Generous grants from community partners like Wells Fargo help increase the percentage of students who graduate on time, easing the shortage of nursing professionals in the Paso del Norte region, especially during these unprecedented times.

To support TTUHSC El Paso students impacted by COVID 19, the Student Frontline Emergency Fund has been set up and contributions can be made by clicking on this link.

TTUHSC El Paso offers tips for handling stress, anxiety and depression during COVID-19 Pandemic

As day-to-day life during the COVID-19 pandemic can feel overwhelming and cause stress, fear, and anxiety in adults and children, Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso licensed professional counselors provide the following tips for helping to reduce stress during these uncertain times.

“Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations; how a person responds to the outbreak can depend on their background, their personality and the community they live in,” TTP El Paso officials shared via an emailed news release.

“One way to manage stress and anxiety is by changing your mindset. Instead of saying, “I am doomed,” say, “This is temporary, and it too shall pass.”

For example:

I am stuck at home. instead say -> I get to be SAFE in my home and spend time with my family.


I will get sick. instead say -> I will self-isolate and wash my hands; this will significantly decrease my chances of getting sick.


I will run out of items at home during self-isolation. instead say -> I have prepared for this, and I will use my items wisely. I have everything I need for now. I can always order curbside delivery—many businesses now deliver for free.


Everything is shutting down! I am panicking. instead say -> The most important places, such as hospitals, pharmacies and grocery stores, remain open. I can always call 911 in case of an emergency.


There is too much uncertainty right now. instead say -> While I cannot control the situation around me, I can control my actions. Doing breathing exercises, calling my loved ones and friends, getting enough sleep and proper nutrition, prayer, and doing activities I love at home (reading, playing board games, writing in your journal) will all help during this time.

Managing your emotions

Staying at home in close quarters for an extended period time with a significant other, children, family members or roommates can cause frayed nerves and lost tempers. TTP El Paso mental health professionals recommend:

  • Walking away from heated discussions and not allowing frustration to turn into aggravation or anger (go to your bedroom, bathroom or outside).
  • Going for a walk in the morning, afternoon and evening. Exercise helps reduce stress.
  • Google or YouTube at-home exercises you can do with your family or alone.
  • Reading something interesting. There are plenty of free books online.
  • Watching a movie that you like. Comedy will help you decompress, and laughter reduces stress.
  • Reaching out to friends with a phone call or video chat.
  • Finding an online mental health therapist. Many therapists offer telehealth consultations and hold sessions via video.

Motivation and self-care

There may be a temptation to stay in bed all day, but that could do more harm than good. Force yourself to get up, shower, get dressed and move around, all the while reminding yourself that this is temporary and nothing in life is permanent. Everything has a beginning and an end.

Self-care and keeping busy are two ways to manage stress and anxiety, along with:

  • Drinking plenty of water.
  • Staying positive.
  • Playing with your dog, cat or other pets.
  • Fixing things around your house.
  • Organizing your closet and putting things aside for donations in the future.
  • Rearranging your furniture.
  • Cleaning your house.
  • Trying new cooking recipes you find on the internet.

Keep a schedule

Keeping a schedule can not only help reduce stress levels but also help everyone to get along better, and provide a feeling of being more in control during uncertain times. The schedule should include:

  • Physical activity.
  • Family/social time.
  • Chores.
  • Some alone time.

When to wake up and when to go to bed should be included in the schedule as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner at regular meal times.

Examples of physical activity that can be done while social distancing include, walking, hiking, cycling, jumping rope, watching free yoga videos online or trying a free dance class online.

Examples of family/social time include, playing board games, playing cards, watching movies and using apps with videoconference to keep in touch. Several companies and attractions have provided ways to stay entertained with things like Netflix Party, which allows you to watch movies remotely with friends, and free, virtual tours of famous museums. You can also listen and watch free concerts online.

Examples of chores that can be done while staying home include basic and deep cleaning, laundry, cooking, gardening, cleaning out closets and separating items for donation, organizing the garage, etc.

Finally, a few examples of some needed alone time include:

  • Taking a bubble bath or a warm shower.
  • Taking a walk.
  • Journaling.
  • Reading.
  • Coloring.
  • Baking.
  • Going outside to meditate (you can also use an app like Headspace).
  • Listening to music.
  • Watching your favorite TV shows.
  • Self-care.
  • Taking time to remind yourself of all the things you are grateful for.

Relax your mind with meditation

Meditation is a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

Several studies have been conducted on how meditation may be helpful for a variety of conditions, such as high blood pressure, certain psychological disorders and pain. A number of studies also have helped researchers learn how meditation might work and how it affects the brain. Click here to learn eight things to know about meditation for health.

Enjoy the outdoors and stay active

The second edition of the Physical Guidelines for Americans, published by Health and Human Services in 2019, states that any amount of physical activity can have health benefits, including doing active chores around the house, yard work or walking the dog. Hiking and walking around a nearby park or around your neighborhood are some examples of outdoor activities.

The American Heart Association generally recommends a target heart rate of moderate exercise intensity should be 50% to about 70% of your maximum heart rate, while vigorous exercise intensity should be 70% to about 85% of your maximum heart rate.

New evidence in the Physical Guidelines for Americans supports that physical activity:

  • Can have immediate benefits: A single episode of physical activity can reduce anxiety and blood pressure and improve quality of sleep and insulin sensitivity.
  • Helps manage even more health conditions: Physical activity can decrease pain for those with osteoarthritis, reduce disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve cognition for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Helps prevent even more chronic conditions: Physical activity has long-term benefits, such as improved brain health, reduced risk of eight types of cancer, reduced risk for fall-related injuries in older adults and reduced risk of excessive weight gain. These benefits are in addition to the other long-term benefits — like preventing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancer — that have been well-known since the first edition was published.

The guidelines recommend that:

  • Adults need at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (five hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, plus muscle strengthening activities on two days each week to attain the most health benefits from physical activity.
  • Youth ages 6 through 17 need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity every day to attain the most health benefits from physical activity.

Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (five hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.

If you plan on exercising at a park, the City of El Paso’s Parks and Recreation Department urges residents not to use playground equipment or workout stations if they visit city parks during the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order.

In addition, the El Paso Department of Public Health urges parents to keep children away from playground equipment because the virus can live on surfaces for hours, even days.

All Parks and Recreation facilities remain closed until further notice as a precautionary response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parks and trails remain open to the public with some recommendations that include:

  • Maintaining at least six feet of social distance from others.
  • Choose less-populated parks and trails.
  • Do not park in a crowded parking lot or use a crowded trail.
  • Wash hands before and after each visit.

“Fresh air and exercise are an important part of maintaining wellness during this unprecedented period in which we work to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 in our community,” said El Paso Parks and Recreation Department Interim Director Ben Fyffe. “Families are urged to use caution, avoid playgrounds and exercise equipment while still enjoying access to El Paso’s parks.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you are in crisis, call the national crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor or local crisis line at 915-779-1800. They provide services over the phone.

For more information on managing stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit the CDC’s Stress and Coping page visit the CDC’s Stress and Coping page

TTUHSC El Paso’s Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine receives CODA Initial Accreditation

The Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso has received the final accreditation necessary to open the dental school next year.

On January 30, the school received initial accreditation of its Doctor of Dental Medicine program from the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). CODA is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education.

The Hunt School of Dental Medicine has already received approval of their doctoral program by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The dental school, set to welcome its inaugural class of students in July 2021, will be the first dental school to open in the state in more than 50 years. It will be the first dental school in West Texas, the fourth in the state of Texas and the first on the U.S.-Mexico border.

El Paso is designated as a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. El Paso County has only one dentist for every 4,480 residents, compared to a national average of one dentist for every 1,639 residents, according to recent data from the Texas Health and Human Services and the American Dental Association.

The addition of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine to the TTUHSC El Paso campus will help reverse this trend and put El Pasoans and other West Texas residents on a track to better oral health.

One great benefit to the community will be the dental clinic that will accompany the school. The 38,000-square-foot clinic, equipped with 130 treatment chairs, will be located on campus, where students, under faculty supervision, will provide reduced-cost dental care.

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.

In June 2019, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a $250.7 billion, two-year state budget approved by the Texas Legislature. The budget included an appropriation of $20 million to establish the Hunt School of Dental Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso.

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

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