$700K going toward Starr County, DHR Health residency

Representatives of DHR Health, Starr County Memorial Hospital and Starr County gather with U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar on Tuesday, July 2, 2024, to celebrate a near $750,000 grant to bolster health care in the region. (Courtesy of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar's office)
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Efforts to bolster health care in the Starr County area just got a $700,000-plus boost thanks to a federal grant earmarked to develop the region’s first medicine rural residency training program.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar announced Tuesday that the Health Resources and Services Administration would be providing DHR Health with $749,356 in federal grant funding. The Rural Residency Planning and Development Grant will be providing funding for the hospital over a three-year period.

During that time, DHR Health in partnership with the Starr County Memorial Hospital will establish a family medicine-obstetrics rural residency training program.

“Developing a rural residency program is essential for addressing physician shortages in underserved areas like Starr County,” stated Starr County Memorial Hospital in a news release Tuesday. “By partnering with DHR Health, Starr County Memorial Hospital is taking proactive steps to improve access to healthcare for the local community and surrounding areas.”

The program is designed to train two residents per year where they will spend a majority of their training at Starr County Memorial Hospital and the remainder of the time at DHR Health. By the end of the three years the program hopes to train six residents in total.

Cuellar congratulated the hospital systems for receiving funding to help improve health care in Starr County.

“With the ever-growing need for healthcare professionals, this partnership will help create the next generation of doctors and expand access to health care for Starr County residents,” Cuellar said in the release.

The funding will help cover 74% of the total program costs.

“DHR Health is excited to be partnering with Starr County Memorial Hospital in order to establish Starr County’s first graduate medical education family medicine rural residency program,” said Dr. Carlos J. Cardenas, chairman of the board and chairman of the Graduate Medical Education Committee at DHR Health. “The establishment of a family residency program will help address physician shortages in Starr County, while expanding educational opportunities and increasing access to quality healthcare services.”

Census data shows that of the 65,920 residents in Starr County, only 27.4% have health insurance and the median household income is $33,871 compared to the state average of $72,284.

Of the county’s population, 16% are classified as disabled compared to 12.4% in Texas, according to census data.