By Senator Borris Miles
This week, the governor signed House Bill 826, to create the University of Houston College of Medicine. This new institution will have a tremendous impact in Houston and our community.
The University of Houston (UH) is situated in the heart of Third Ward. Its main campus is a stone’s throw away from some of the most medically underserved areas of Houston. Many of these communities have some of the highest numbers of residents with poor health in Houston.
Texas has a doctor shortage, specifically primary care physicians. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, Texas ranks 47 out of 50 states in having enough physicians to serve its populations. In Houston, the shortage of primary care physicians will grow by more than 250 percent over the next 12 years, according to projections by the Department of State Health Services.
UH is stepping up as a community partner to help address the issues of the medically underserved and primary care physician shortage. The UH College of Medicine’s curriculum will reflect the needs of the community with a focus on primary care. I worked with UH to ensure that students completed their clinical clerkships and internships near the UH campus at clinics that provide health care to the medically underserved. This will have a direct impact in communities like the Third Ward, Sunnyside, South Park and Fifth Ward.
Last month, UH opened one of its major components for the medical school, the new safety net medical clinic, also located in Third Ward. UH partnered with Lone Star Circle of Care, which already operates 19 similar clinics in the state and is a Federally Qualified Health Center. The safety net medical clinic will provide primary care services to patients regardless of their ability to pay.
For over a decade, I have pushed UH to become a better partner in the community where they are located. I am proud of our positive working relationship and work closely with UH on this endeavor to ensure the UH College of Medicine will serve dual purposes- fill the need of primary care physicians and serve the poor and minority communities of Houston.