El Paso, Texas, Region Can Serve as ‘Model’ for Minority Health Care, Opinion Piece States
The El Paso, Texas, region, which is nearly 80% Hispanic, "can serve as a model" to the rest of the nation in "providing quality health care" to diverse populations, but "there still is a long way to go," to eliminate disparities in the area, Robert Anders, dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Texas at El Paso, and Kathleen Curtis, dean of the College of Health Sciences at UTEP, write in an El Paso Times opinion piece. According to Anders and Curtis, "That's because despite notable progress in the nation's overall health, clear disparities still exist in the rates of chronic disease and death experienced by minority groups in comparison to rates of the entire U.S. population."
"Even though the needs are greater, care is less available on the border," Anders and Curtis write, adding, "The border region faces serious shortages of health care providers across primary care, specialty care, nursing, rehabilitation professionals, dentists, pharmacists and mental health professionals." The provider shortages are "projected to increase due to increasing needs of our aging population and anticipated retirements of the health care work force."
Anders and Curtis continue, "With the right investments, we can change this situation. We need to engage in comprehensive regional assessment of health care work force needs and planning for health professions education." They add that with the "absence of sweeping national reform, we need to explore more local solutions for health challenges," including "long-term state investments in health professions education." Anders and Curtis conclude that National Minority Health Month, which took place in April, should be used as a platform to "proclaim that poor health is unacceptable in El Paso and show our region's leadership in righting the national health care crisis" (Anders/Curtis, El Paso Times, 5/4).