By: Dr. Guadalupe Zamora, Vice-Chair, Central Health Board of Managers
Five years ago today, a decisive majority of voters approved a 5-cent property tax increase to improve health care in Travis County.
As Vice-Chairperson of the Central Health Board of Managers and a long-time physician practicing here in Austin, I am fortunate to see the impact that vote is having every day on people with low income in Travis County — the people I have dedicated my life to caring for and the people Central Health is obligated – and honored – to serve.
In 2012 voters demanded change — a top-to-bottom overhaul of our health care delivery system that could only come with the support of a new medical school. I see that change happening every day.
With the ongoing $35 million investment in the Dell Medical School at UT, which was approved by voters, Central Health is delivering on its promise to create an innovative new model for local health care delivery – one that is sustainable and meets the needs of our growing community.
This new model is especially important for communities I serve, which have historically lacked access to quality care. We are creating a healthier, stronger community for everyone.
None of this would be possible without the leadership of State Senator Kirk Watson, who laid out a vision for 10 Goals in 10 Years back in 2011 and asked me to serve on the Steering Committee. Sen. Watson’s vision was to transform the health of our community and our economy and we’re doing that. I’m also grateful to Travis County Commissioners for supporting this vision and continuing to approve Central Health’s annual budget.
Here are a few examples of how our community is better off today.
Today, 287 Dell Medical School residents – guided by world-class faculty – are working in local clinics and hospitals caring for people with low income.
Improved Women’s Health Services.
Dell Med has redesigned pre-natal and postpartum care for women with low incomes and their babies. Now, every mom who goes to a CommUnityCare clinic receives the highest standard of care, which includes an examination from a physician and comprehensive ultrasound services, regardless of her ability to pay. She also gets a vital post-delivery appointment — and nearly four-in-five patients are keeping those appointments.
Shorter Wait Times.
Thanks to Dell Med, we’ve cut wait times for specialty care from more than a year to less than a month. This new model improved outcomes for patients while lowering costs for them and Central Health.
Mental and Behavioral Health.
Dell Med and Central Health — with our partner Integral Care — are changing the way our community cares for people with mental or behavioral health issues. We are combining mental health care with primary and specialty care so these services are better integrated and more accessible for people with low incomes who would have struggled with these issues in the past.
None of this would be possible without the support of Travis County voters 5 years ago.
Thank you for trusting us – we promise we won’t let you down.
Dr. Guadalupe Zamora
Vice-Chairperson, Central Health Board of Managers