• March 30, 2020

TTUHSC, PSP join forces to expand rural health care access - Odessa American: Education

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TTUHSC, PSP join forces to expand rural health care access

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  • Banding Together

    Presenting a check for $5.9 million to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Tracee Bentlee and Dr. Tedd Mitchell shake hands while those in attendance give a standing ovation to the new partnership Thursday afternoon.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2020 6:25 pm

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine Family and Community Medicine Rural Residency Program announced Thursday a $5.9 million contribution from The Permian Strategic Partnership to expand health care resources to Permian Basin communities.

The expansion includes Midland Health, Carlsbad Medical Center, Lea Regional Medical Center in Hobbs, N.M., and Reeves County Medical Center in Pecos.

Texas Tech University System Chancellor Dr. Tedd Mitchell said while the cities in the Permian Basin are growing, they aren’t growing nearly at the rate of Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

“And what that means is from a representation standpoint over time is the eastern part of the state will just outstrip us, and so the idea of us working together and banding together to get things done is critical …,” Mitchell said at a Thursday news conference at Texas Tech Physicians in Midland.

Mitchell said this is an important time for us because we are at a watershed moment if we don’t provide the educational opportunities for people that need it out here, and we don’t provide the health care needs “then the rest of it is all for nought.”

“So this is a great day for a great announcement …,” Mitchell said.

In a news release, Dr. Timothy Benton regional chair for the Department of Family and Community Medicine and associate dean of clinical affairs, said healthcare is core to the vitality of a community and better health outcomes occur in communities with a strong primary care foundation, most often provided by family medicine physicians.

Benton said this is the second largest family medicine training program in Texas and the largest rural training program in the state of Texas.

What this does, he said, is expand the current training program from 48 residents to 69. Residents will now complete their first year at either Medical Center Hospital in Odessa or Midland Memorial Hospital in Midland before completing their final two years at one of the rural sites.

Benton said in a news release that the residency program expansion creates a regional network of more than 70 family medicine physicians trained in community engagement and co-trained with psychologists in family medicine mental health, “thereby preparing them beyond traditional office visits to population health management.”

Benton said in time the hospitals will begin to support the program with 21 residents. It will be seven per year with the first year beginning in July 2020.

“We’ll be full in 2022 — 15 in Midland and then two in each of the rural sites,” Benton said.

Benton added that the current expansion is not adding to Odessa.

“What we’re looking at is developing a primary care network throughout the Permian Basin and from the Department of Family Medicine. We had training sites throughout much of the region but that was a piece of the region that wasn’t covered.”

Regional Dean and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Dr. Gary Ventolini said this is what he’s been trying to do since he came to Odessa seven years ago.

“Seven years ago, we had six residents in family practice per year. Now we’re going to have 23. We had two in OB; now we’re going to have four per year. We had 10 in internal medicine; now we’re going to have 16. …,” Ventolini said.

He said having this come to reality is amazing.

“Then we have PSP helping on that, Midland Memorial helping on that and now the new CEO at Medical Center, the two Russells (Russell Meyers at Midland and Russell Tippin at MCH), it’s going to be fantastic. We’re looking for a very, very bright future, not only for us but especially for all the Basin and the population of Texas,” Ventolini added.

Benton said the initiative expands the foundation for healthcare delivery.

“I believe the foundation to healthcare is primary care, which is what family medicine does,” Benton said.

This will infuse primary care physicians into the region and will expand access to care.

Tracee Bentley, president and chief executive officer of the Permian Strategic Partnership, said this effort is PSP’s first healthcare initiative.

“It is a perfect example of what we look for in a partnership,” Bentley said. “It’s Permian Basin wide. There’s a proven track record of success and leadership from Texas Tech (and) exceptional leadership from our hospital executives. It will significantly move the needle in an area where we very much need to see immediate progress.”

Bentley said in the release that expanding access to health care is a critical component of the PSP’s mission to improve the quality of life for workers and families across our Permian communities, which have 35 percent fewer primary care providers than the national average.

“Since research shows a shortage of primary care providers results in longer waits to access care, less adherence to preventive care and overall worse health outcomes, we believe increasing the number of family medicine residents and mental health fellows in the Permian will mean better, healthier lives for all who live and work here,” she said.

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