On Thursday, April 21, the Rio Grande Valley Health Services District (RGVHSD) Board of Directors is holding a special called meeting to approve an operating plan written by staff from The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health’s Center for Community Health Development. The meeting begins at 11 a.m. at the Rio Grande Valley Partnership Conference Room in Weslaco, Texas (322 South Missouri Ave.).
The approval is the final step needed for the district to be able to begin providing services through contract providers. Hidalgo and Cameron counties are abundant in local healthcare resources over $1.4 billion and 111 service delivery sites. The service delivery system, however, is fragmented, resulting in a disabled system, limited in its ability to serve the target population efficiently.
The operating plan addresses how the RGVHSD will operate and how the District will meet the needs of the indigent population that are currently not being met and emphasizes the overarching strategy of the Board to improve population health status of Valley residents. It addresses six major components: governance, administration, policy, finances, community relations, and clinic operations.
The operating plan, written by Julie Parrish, program coordinator at the Center for Community Health Development (CCHD), lays out the path for the Board to enact its strategic plan also written by CCHD staff to build new facilities in Hidalgo and/or Cameron Counties.
Parrish wrote the plan with the assistance from representatives from each county who worked on the clinic operational plans. Parrish said a major accomplishment of the plan is that it unites the two counties and outlined the functions/roles, etc., of the Board.
“This really has not been done before,” she said. “There is little history of collaboration here, and this is a huge milestone for the Valley. A benefit to stakeholders is the sharing of the burden, sharing of resources, and sharing of successes.”
“The greatest benefit for the indigent population is the potential expansion of the pool of available resources through a united system and network of multiple providers, agencies, organizations, etc.–which in itself has multiple benefits and possibilities. On a more tangible level, one of the clinics will focus on providing specialty care and ambulatory services–which has been severely lacking. Previously, patients were referred to UTMB in Galveston, or other places. Another benefit of the creation of a network will be increased knowledge of and access to multiple types of services.”
The ideas and proposed action steps in the overarching operational plan for the RGVHSD have the flexibility to evolve over the next few years during this transitional period to culminate into a product that will lead to population health status improvement and enhanced quality of life.
The CCHD and School of Rural Public Health committed to this work because of the potential impact for indigent populations in the Valley. The School has had a presence in the Rio Grande Valley since 2000 when it established a distance education Master of Public Health site in McAllen. The School continues to have an impact through education and outreach activities such as the CCHD’s involvement in the Health Services District project.

— Marketing & Communications