For the past four years, researchers at the Center for Community Health Development have worked with underserved areas of the Rio Grande Valley to improve their access to health care. On March 31, the Center’s staff will discuss the project, its accomplishments, and opportunities for expansion while hosting a site visit for staff from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The site visit will conclude with a Lower Rio Grande Valley Health Care forum on April 1.
The forum, planned for federal, state, and local elected officials, key staff and the site visitors, as well as other local stakeholders, will discuss the Integrated Health Outreach System project that provides improved access to health care for residents of several Hidalgo County colonias. The Center for Community Health Development, a part of The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health, managed the $5 million, four-year effort funded by the RWJF and HRSA. This is the final year of funding for this project, and the participants will be exploring opportunities to continue and expand the activities.
“The project focused on building local community capacity to identify health problems and to plan and implement solutions that fit the unique mix of key factors in each community,” said Jim Burdine, Dr.P.H., director of the Center for Community Health Development and co-principal investigator. “A major component of the project consisted of training and utilizing community health workers (promotoras) to provide outreach, education and assistance with navigation into and through the health-care system. Although the formal evaluation will not be completed until the fall, this project has already demonstrated its value and is being replicated in other communities and states.”

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