$3 million will boost Health Science Center’s Laredo programs

Sen. Zaffirini and President Cigarroa. File photo

Continuing education for Laredo health professionals … environmental health training … dental student education … student “pipeline” activities.

These projects and others conducted in Laredo by the Health Science Center soon will receive a $3 million boost, thanks to an appropriation by the 79th Texas Legislature during the regular session.

“In a year of mounting fiscal challenges for our state, Sen. Judith Zaffirini provided tremendous leadership, as she always does, to obtain this funding for initiatives that will benefit the people of Laredo and surrounding communities,” said Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the Health Science Center. “It is no surprise that the same legislative leader whose vision led to the establishment of the Health Science Center’s Laredo Campus Extension continues to be extremely effective at enhancing the very programs that emanate from that campus.”

The programs will be conducted at the D.D. Hachar Building, 1937 Bustamante St. in Laredo, over the next five years. The region’s medical, dental, nursing, allied health and public health professionals will expand their knowledge through continuing education that is both in the form of traditional workshops and presentations, and interactive audio and video.

The new funding will enable the Health Science Center to develop research activities focusing on the Border Region. One goal is to establish a research partnership with the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in Laredo.

A slice of funding will go to the Health Science Center’s very successful South Texas Environmental Education and Research (STEER) Program, which offers a four-week rotation nine times a year to health professionals and health professions students in border environmental health issues and concerns. This year the program welcomed students from Harvard, Johns Hopkins and other schools of medicine and public health.

One goal is for STEER to bring more national experts to Laredo to speak during the course and to increase the number of Texas health professions students enrolling in it. The state funding also will help STEER to implement a healthy homes project funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The HUD grant is designed to develop assessment tools to address health and safety hazards in low-income homes along the border.

The appropriation also will boost Laredo activities of the Med-Ed Program, a Health Science Center initiative to interest high school students in the health professions and research. The new funding will enable more Laredo students to participate in field trips to the Health Science Center and other facilities involved in education, training and delivery of health care.

Sen. Zaffirini was instrumental in securing the majority of funding for the $10 million Hachar Building, the first building at the Laredo Campus Extension. Sen. Zaffirini, President Cigarroa and other leaders dedicated the Hachar Building in December 2002.

Sen. Zaffirini in 1999 authored the bill that established the Laredo Campus Extension.

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