MCALLEN, Texas – UT-Rio Grande Valley is to purchase 38 acres of land in McAllen in order to double the size of its medical school.
The land, part of the 495 Commerce Center development just south of Pecan Boulevard between Jackson and McColl, will be home to UTRGV’s planned McAllen Academic Medical Campus.
News of the purchase was announced by Dr. Parwinder Grewal, executive vice president of research, innovation, and new program development at UTRGV, in his monthly report to the McAllen Economic Development Corporation.
Interviewed after the meeting, Grewal told the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service: “Mainly I wanted to share that UTRGV plans to buy 38 acres of land to double the size of its medical school. That will be in the City of McAllen. That land will be on the south side of Pecan Boulevard, between Jackson and McColl. We will complete the acquisition of that land this year and thereafter we will basically start the building because the medical school needs space urgently.
Asked why the expansion of the medical school is so important, Grewal said: “The medical school is expanding. We are adding more and more research programs so we absolutely need to expand our facilities for the School of Medicine. And, our Cancer Center, which is already based in McAllen, has just received its first separate grant, which is from the Texas Cancer Institute. It is about $2.5 million.”
Later in the day, UTRGV issued a news release about the medical school’s expansion plans. The news release said UT Health RGV is “expanding its healthcare offerings in South Texas with a new Cancer and Surgery Center, with oncology advisory services provided by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center — a world leader in cancer care and research.”
The news release said the 100,000-square-foot center is part of phase one of the development of UTRGV’s McAllen Academic Medical Campus. It said the center will provide much-needed access to underserved specialties and clinical services in medical, radiation, and surgical oncology, as well as clinical research across those areas.
“The surgery center will include outpatient surgery and imaging spaces to support continuity of care for patients through the full spectrum of their care journey. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2022, with completion in Spring 2024.”
UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the Cancer and Surgery Center will help address an underserved healthcare need in the Valley.
“This is a pivotal moment in our commitment to expand healthcare services in the Rio Grande Valley, South Texas and beyond,” Bailey said in the news release.
“We look forward to engaging with MD Anderson’s advisory services to develop and launch our cancer program. I would like to thank Senator Juan ‘Chuy’ Hinojosa for his dedication and support of this important project.”
Hinojosa, whose Senate District 20 seat includes part of McAllen, was also featured in the news release. “We will keep working to secure the partnerships and investments necessary so that in the future our patients in South Texas will have access to top-notch facilities and world-class doctors,” Hinojosa, said. “Working together, we can beat cancer.”
Dr. MichaelHocker, dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine, said the new complex will be a game-changer for the Valley, noting that the region has higher rates of many cancers, and many are advanced at initial detection.
“Unfortunately, most everyone has had a family member or friend who has been affected by cancer,” Hocker said, in the news release. “Soon, we’ll have a center in our backyard that will provide first-rate cancer care from diagnosis through treatment. The complex also will provide more opportunities to expand the important cancer research already being conducted by our School of Medicine.”
In his interview with the Guardian, Dr. Grewal also spoke about other developments at UTRGV.
“Our Center for Urban Ecology that we work on with Quinta Mazatlan, is doing really, really, well. Its fundraising campaign is doing really well so we hope to break ground before the end of the year, to have the first platinum LEED-certified building in the city,” Grewal said.
“Also, UTRGV will be opening the campus this fall. It will have mostly hybrid classes, some online classes but hybrid gives the opportunity for students to come on to campus to take online.”
Grewal said he also wanted to tell the McAllen EDC board of directors about UTRGV’s new Physics Ph.D. program.
“This has been finally approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. So that will start in the Spring of 2022. Another piece I wanted to get across was that UTRGV just completed an equity and market adjustment for all its employees. This is a really good thing in the middle of the pandemic and also a two percent merit increase for all employees. It is really good we are able to do that for our employees.”
Grewal added: “And one last thing. One of our communications graduates students Noe Mendoza became the national collegiate champion in the U.S. boxing national junior Olympics and simmer boxing festival. So, kudos to Noe Mendoza.”
By: Rio Grande Guardian