Health Science Center, Morningside Ministries dedicate Elizabeth Training Institute

The Health Science Center recently provided planning and technological assistance to help Morningside Ministries Retirement Community open a state-of-the-art training institute for those who care for the elderly.

Statewide training opportunities

Maria Wellisch and Nina Rios of Morningside Ministries demonstrate some of the new technology at the Elizabeth Training Institute.

Using sophisticated videoconference and Internet streaming technology, the Elizabeth Training Institute will train the 650 health care professionals who work at Morningside Ministries, as well as health care providers, pastoral caregivers and family members of the elderly throughout the state. This training opportunity is designed to increase the number of skilled health care workers available to care for the elderly population throughout the state.

24-hour access to training
Learners will be able to access training sessions anywhere in the country using a computer. Participants watching the live presentations can submit questions via e-mail and have their questions answered in real time. Each training session is recorded and can be accessed later by those unable to participate in the live session. This eliminates the need for employees to come in for training during their time off or for a trainer to offer the same course during three daily shifts.

Dedication ceremony
Opened in 2006, the dedication ceremony for the Elizabeth Training Institute was held April 18 at Morningside Ministries. The institute is named for a longtime supporter of Morningside Ministries who believed in the vision and promise of the institute.

Richard Garcia Pavilion

Morningside Ministries’ Maria Wellisch (L-R) stands with Steven Garcia and Mrs. Georgia Garcia, the wife of the late Richard Garcia, near a dedication plaque at the Richard Garcia Pavilion. Steven is Mr. Garcia’s son.

Also at the ceremony, a pavilion was dedicated to Richard Garcia, the assistant vice president for South Texas Programs, which provides health education and training for 38 medically underserved counties in South Texas. Mr. Garcia worked tirelessly to help establish the Elizabeth Training Institute until his untimely death in June 2006. During his long career with the Health Science Center, Mr. Garcia was involved in many projects to help improve health care and to provide training for future health care professionals in the communities where they live.

Strong partnership
Although he was unable to attend the dedication ceremony, Health Science Center President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., provided videotaped remarks for the dedication ceremony. He congratulated Morningside Ministries on the establishment of the Elizabeth Training Institute and noted the strong partnership between the Health Science Center and Morningside Ministries.

“The Health Science Center’s partnership with Morningside Ministries is important because it is for the care of our own elderly,” Dr. Cigarroa said, noting his warm relationship with his grandparents, including his grandmother whom he said has a wonderful quality of life at age 91.

“The work that Richard Garcia has done with Morningside Ministries has been very important in advancing technology and allowing the Health Science Center’s videoconference telecommunications center to be able to help Morningside Ministries advance its mission throughout South Texas,” he said.

Rudy De La Cruz Jr., M.P.A., M.A., manager of videoconference operations, and John Garcia, network specialist, both in the Health Science Center department of academic informatics services, were instrumental in helping the Morningside Ministries staff select the appropriate technology to open the institute.

Distance-learning technology fulfills core mission
Distance learning is one of the major ways the Health Science Center provides training to aspiring health care professionals throughout South Texas. This technology often is the only way people in small, isolated communities can get the quality of training they need to advance their careers, while providing health care to people in their own communities.

Medical residencies
Through the years, the partnership between the Health Science Center and Morningside Ministries has provided hands-on training for Health Science Center students specializing in geriatrics. Dr. Cigarroa said, “It’s a privilege to work with Morningside Ministries and I’m so proud that our medical students and our residents are also involved in the care of the patients at Morningside Ministries.”

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