County Judge, Veronica Escobar

  • El Pasoans create health powerhouse
  • By Veronica Escobar and José Alexandro Lozano / Guest columnists
    El Paso Times

    Among the many great accomplishments our community has achieved lately, one of our proudest collective moments has been the news that we received full-funding for our four-year medical school, the first dedicated to border health issues and the first to be founded in Texas since 1972.

    This announcement was the result of much hard work that cannot end. In fact, in many ways, the work for our community has just begun.

    Texas Tech Health Science Center, its students and faculty, will bring renewed life to an area that richly deserves it. Thomason Hospital, Tech's teaching hospital and our community safety net, is embarking on an ambitious expansion and will soon be proposing a children's hospital, another significant first for our community.

    And across the street from the hospital, the Silva magnet school is educating our future healthcare professionals. Amid all this change, families and neighborhoods have patiently supported the new growth these institutions have brought to the area.

    The development of this area into a health care jewel has the potential to be the biggest and most significant event in El Paso's recent history. The enormity of this change will require El Paso leaders to insure an orderly transformation of the area.

    We need people who will connect all the entities; work with the city to anticipate and address traffic, growth and safety needs; work with donors and institutions that will bring in money and jobs; work with the surrounding neighborhoods to make sure they are respectfully included in all plans and that their interests are protected; and finally, help develop the green space and amenities that will make the area attractive and inviting.

    Thankfully, we don't need to scramble to start that coordination and planning process. It began years ago when philanthropists, business leaders and elected officials established the Medical Campus of the Americas (MCA) Foundation. After a short hiatus and many lessons learned about what the MCA should and should not be doing, it is now a reinvigorated organization that has been quietly and steadily working toward one goal: Growing our medical assets so that this community can achieve our greatest potential.

    The long-term vision for this area is one of teeming students, researchers, doctors and administrators working alongside companies and businesses thriving off the synergy they create.

    The area will feature research centers, dormitories, parks, fire and police stations, restaurants, pharmaceutical companies and thriving residential neighborhoods. The MCA, which does not have powers of eminent domain, will work collaboratively with all involved to create the best area possible. The potential is only as limited as our imagination and commitment.

    None of the members of the MCA has a vested interest in any institution in the area, nor are they receiving remuneration for their time and effort. They are simply committed people who have come together to help transform El Paso into a healthcare powerhouse.

    As your city and county elected representatives, we represent the Thomason/Texas Tech area and the neighborhood's interests; and, as members of the MCA, we are committed to working with the foundation to realize these very attainable goals.

    Because we recognize that past efforts in this area, however well-intended, were marred by inadequate communication, we are committed to keeping the community informed and involved during the development of all plans. We are here to answer questions, to listen to ideas and to address concerns. This is a tremendous time for El Paso and everyone stands to gain from this. We are excited about what the future holds and look forward to working with all the partners involved.

    Veronica Escobar is county commissioner of Precinct 2. José Alexandro Lozano is East-Central city representative and mayor pro-tem.


  • County Judge
    Veronica Escobar