Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow: Making an impact in the lives of the people living in the region

October 5, 2015

Pushing for El Paso to become one of the first major U.S. cities to adopt an ordinance banning indoor smoking in public places, and seeing a reduction in the number of smokers and incidence of lung cancer rates as a result.

Reducing the excess calories in meals and creating healthy menu options in restaurants; adding miles of public walking trails; and facilitating teen-to-teen conversations on the U.S.-Mexico border around the topic of healthy sexuality.

These are some of the ways the Paso del Norte Health Foundation has been at the forefront in helping El Paso and the surrounding west Texas, southern New Mexico and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico region improve its health and well-being over the past 20 years.

When Tenet Healthcare Corporation took over the operations of Providence Memorial Hospital at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 1, 1995, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation came into being with $130 million in assets.

Now in its 20th year of operation, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation is the largest private foundation on the U.S.-Mexico border and has invested more than $141 million in the pursuit of its health-conscious mission, exceeding the $130 million the Health Foundation initially received from the sale of Providence Memorial.

The history of this unique transaction dates back to 1902 when a group of doctors and businessmen in El Paso established Providence Hospital, the city’s first non-denominational hospital. Faced with the challenges of growth and spurred on by the passage of the federal Hill-Burton Act of 1946, Providence eventually transitioned from a small, private hospital to a public, not-for-profit hospital with a mission to be the finest medical facility between Los Angeles and Dallas.

The eventual sale of Providence Memorial to Tenet Healthcare came during a period of increased hospital industry consolidation in the mid-1990s. When Tenet purchased Providence Memorial, the assets immediately went toward the establishment of a new community health foundation whose mission would be “to effect long-term improvements in the health status of the population of the greater El Paso region through education and prevention.”

In its first year of operation the Paso del Norte Health Foundation worked to identify the health needs of the region comprising El Paso; Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; and southern New Mexico. Since then, it has awarded grants to more than 300 organizations across the region, all in pursuit of “creating a region driven by the power of healthy living.”

The future of the Foundation is bright, with a growing emphasis on healthy eating and active living, mental and emotional well-being, after-school opportunities for disenfranchised youth, healthy sexuality and relationships, and preventing teen binge drinking.

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