Area Health Education Center: Blessing to Detached Community

Local News

It’s no secret there’s a huge need for healthcare along the border. In many areas in the Rio Grande Valley. 1 out of 5 people don’t have insurance or a way to get medical attention. As we continue our partnership with Communications Students from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley we learn about a program that is providing healthcare for those who need it most.

“A blessing to a detached community in dire need,” says Hidalgo County Commissioner Precinct 4 Joseph Palacios. This center providing free healthcare services to a small community of 3,000 located in that same precinct. 

It’s called an Area Health Education Center also known as AHEC and is part of a collaboration with the UTRGV School of Medicine, where the county has provided resources such as the donation of the facility itself. 

Commissioner Palacios says, “It’s been a wonderful relationship, obviously partnering with UTRGV. They are such an impeccable institution with what they are offering down there with free medical healthcare. It is such a blessing there to the families in San Carlos. “

The AHEC program director says this project was funded by a five-year grant of almost $4 million from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

Dr. John Ronnau, “The federal government’s main motivation is to get more and more healthcare professionals, especially those in school now, or even down to the high school level. Get them interested in working in rural underserved areas, because we are underserved.”

The Area Health Education Center is located six miles east of Edinburg in the community of San Carlos and is the only one in Hidalgo County, but isn’t the only one in the Valley.

The program director says there are two other centers located in the counties along the border. One in Starr County in the city of La Victoria and the other in Cameron County in the Brownsville area.

They are currently being operated by the healthcare staff, faculty, and students from the School of Medicine and the College of Health Affairs. Even though the AHEC in San Carlos is already in service, the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony is set for November.

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