Hospitals go after local funds for residency programs

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POSTED: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 3:33pm

UPDATED: Friday, September 20, 2013 - 8:24am

The Doctor's Hospital in Edinburg needs money to start its residency program when the new medical school opens in a couple of years.  

McAllen and Edinburg are forking over $1 million each.  Under a federal program, Uncle Sam will give $1.5 million for each $1 million.  All the money will go to the hospital.  

"You can't just build a medical school and expect to get new doctors in a community," said Carlos Cardenas, CEO of Doctor's Hospital. "You have to have residency programs in order for those medical students to continue their graduate-level education, to become full-fledged physicians."

The hospital itself is allocating $60 million for the residency program.  And up to $50 million more could be coming from local governments.  This month, McAllen Medical asked taxpayers for $1.25 million for its own residency program.  

 "You're going to see that the new university is supposed to...address the health and public health concerns within this region," said Julio Leon, special advisor for the UT system. "So the university, obviously will address those."  

Hospital officials say it's all startup costs and the hospital is bearing the risk.  That after five years, funding will dry up and all the costs will then fall on the hospital.  

"We need to be able to educate and hopefully by educating we can recruit and retain physicians in our community to help us as we continue to grow," Cardenas said.  

Doctor's Hospital says it will open 78 residency slots beginning in the summer of 2015.  Officials say the majority of those wll stay in the Valley and help the doctor shortage.  

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