From Our Team
Posted on January 1, 2018 by Tracy J. Yellen
One of our 2017 high points was welcoming home the first two Texas Tech Paul L. Foster School of Medicine graduates who elected to set up practices in El Paso after their residences. Dr. Iris Tomas and Dr. Jennifer Lopez-Perez were among the first participants in the Health Foundation’s “forgivable loan program,” established at Texas Tech nearly a decade ago to reward medical students if they practiced in El Paso.
The forgivable loan program is one of many investments that the Health Foundation is making to promote health and prevent disease in the region. Here are a few additional highlights from 2017 that I am pleased to share thanks to the vision and oversight of our board of directors, collaboration with partners and grantees, generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations, and dedication of our staff.
Health Leadership – The Texas Tech Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine hired Dr. Richard Black as interim dean to begin work on the curriculum and accreditation for the new dental school. The University of Texas at El Paso School of Pharmacy welcomed its first class of students in the new PharmD program on its way to full accreditation. The Foundation’s REALIZE Executive Program welcomed a cohort of 20 nonprofit and health leaders to hone their leadership skills.
Healthy Eating and Active Living – The Health Foundation hosted multiple public meetings to get input from the community on two trail projects: 1) the Playa Drain Trail from Ascarate Park to Riverside Park, which will begin construction in 2018, and 2) the Paso del Norte Trail, an ambitious 50-mile trail in the planning stages to connect neighborhoods, promote active living, and celebrate the region’s history, environment and culture. To improve nutrition in the region, UTEP’s Institute for Healthy Living supported implementation of the “Fresh Place” model at the Kelly Memorial Food Pantry and released a report/call to action entitled “Food for Every Child: Access and Demand for Healthy Food in the Paso del Norte Region.”
Mental and Emotional Well-being – The Health Foundation joined the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and local leaders to launch the “Okay to Say” campaign to make it okay to talk openly about mental illness. We participated in the El Paso Behavioral Health Consortium established to facilitate local collaboration and take advantage of state funding allocated this past legislative session. We supported grants to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Emergence Health Network, NAMI of El Paso, and El Paso Child Guidance Center, among others, to expand mental health first aid training and support individuals and families experiencing a mental health issue and/or recovering from trauma.
Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention – El Paso’s Smoke Free Paso del Norte Coalition celebrated the 15th anniversary of El Paso’s Clean Air Ordinance, and recent passage of the ordinance in the Township of Anthony. The El Paso community has seen measurable declines in smoking rates – from 24% in 2002 to 13.8% today - ahead of both Texas and the United States - and now a correlating decrease in the incidence of lung cancer. The City of El Paso began implementation of the Social Host Ordinance, designed to reduce binge drinking among teens.
Healthy Kids – The Health Foundation invested significant resources to expand after school programs in some of the most vulnerable neighborhoods in Cd. Juarez through “Ignite” grants to CASA, OPI and the FEMAP Foundation, and in rural areas in El Paso and Southern New Mexico in partnership with Creative Kids, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, among others.
The Health Foundation experienced a significant increase in investment assets in 2017. As part of our commitment to stewardship and accountability, we kept our administrative expenses below 1% of our assets. We leveraged binational grant making in partnership with our family of foundations – the Paso del Norte Charitable Foundation and Fundacion Paso del Norte para la Salud y Bienestar in Cd. Juarez.
Winston Churchill is attributed to saying that “healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” We look forward to working with you in 2018 to ensure that the residents of our region have the knowledge, resources and environment to live healthy lives.
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