The Paso del Norte Health Foundation joins the City and others to create COVID-19 Enhance Regional Public Health Partnership

May 18, 2020

The City of El Paso, in partnership with the Medical Center of the Americas Foundation (MCA) and the Paso del Norte Health Foundation announced the creation of the COVID-19 Enhanced Regional Public Health Partnership, a public-private partnership that aims to improve communication and coordination between public sector officials, private sector partners and healthcare providers to strengthen the region’s collective capacity to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Battelle, an international science and technology company that has been at the forefront of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been contracted to work with partnership leaders and provide hands-on support and guidance.

The COVID-19 Enhanced Regional Public Health Partnership brings together a coalition of leaders from local hospitals, community clinics, medical research centers, public health departments and foundations, and local businesses to support the ongoing public health efforts throughout the Paso del Norte region to slow and stop the spread of coronavirus, and treat those who have already been impacted by this virus. The partnership will also:

  • Provide critical resources to protect the public and our essential workers on the front lines of this battle – especially healthcare workers and employees of other essential businesses such as utilities, grocery stores, restaurants and the regional medical device manufacturing industry,
  • Work with city and regional officials to coordinate care and enhance communication among the many healthcare and non-healthcare organizations stepping up to help,
  • Tackle this pandemic as a region, creating a coordinated and seamless response between El Paso, Ciudad Juárez, and Las Cruces.

“In order for us to truly stabilize and control the spread of this virus, we must think and act regionally. What happens in Ciudad Juárez impacts El Paso and vice versa, so one of the goals of this partnership is to create a regional response to COVID-19,” said Tracy Yellen, Chief Executive Officer of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation. “We want to maximize and deploy our resources across the region, and that requires all of us to act collectively in our response.”

One unique feature of this new public-private partnership is the technical assistance and support that Battelle will be providing in responding to COVID-19. Battelle has already worked with Ohio Department of Health in their response to coronavirus, are conducting in-vivo and in-vitro lab work for the Federal Government to test and evaluate COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines, and recently received FDA approval of a new personal protective equipment (PPE) decontamination system.

Mayor Margo also announced the creation of the Economic Task Force, a group of business and community leaders who will focus on developing strategies to safely reopen El Paso businesses and get residents back to work. The COVID-19 Enhanced Regional Public Health Partnership will work in tandem with the Economic Task Force to mitigate the health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region.

The Economic Task Force is chaired by Rick Francis, chief executive officer of WestStar Bank, who was also appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to serve on the “Strike Force to Open Texas.” Kristina Mena, Ph.D., dean of the University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health El Paso Campus, is also serving as an expert adviser to Dr. John Zerwas, Executive Vice-Chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Texas System, for his participation in the Strike Force. Francis and Mena are members of the Enhanced Regional Public Health Partnership. Collectively, their participation will ensure coordination between local and state efforts.

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