Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) El Paso has received a $750,000 gift to establish an endowed chair in the department of neurology. TTUHSC will match that donation to provide a total of $1.5 million that will be used to recruit and attract physicians in specialty areas that are underserved in the El Paso region.
The gift from the Jim and Julie Cardwell Fund and the Cardwell Family Foundation will help TTUHSC reach its long-term goal of improving patient care and expanding research potential.
“We have a serious physician shortage in El Paso and Southern New Mexico,” Jim Cardwell, an El Paso businessman, said in a university press release. “This is an opportunity to bring TTUHSC El Paso to the forefront in the training of physicians.”
“Hopefully some of them will stay here in El Paso, but if not, at least we’re training more, so there are more doctors. We need more access to medical providers so that families do not have to leave our region to receive specialty care,” Cardwell said.
There is a shortage of neurologists in the United States, which means that in some regions in the country patients are forced to travel far for medical treatment.
El Paso has currently about 20 practicing neurologists, but that is too few for an area that size and, since El Paso neurologists support patients from the entire Paso del Norte region.
According to American Academy of Neurology recommendations, in optimal situations a city should have three to five neurologists available for every 100,000 inhabitants. This would represent a minimum of 35 physicians required to serve the approximately 700,000 people in El Paso County.
In addition, about 45 percent of cases covered by neurologists at TTUHSC El Paso are uncompensated care for the uninsured or underinsured, which further supports the need to bring more neurologists to the region.
The Jim and Julie Cardwell endowment “is meant to grow the activities of the department of neurology, perhaps creating more residency opportunities and clinical lines of service such as a multiple sclerosis clinic, or growing an epilepsy service,” said Salvador Cruz-Flores, MD, professor and chair of TTUHSC El Paso’s department of neurology.
“In general, this will expand the services of the neurology department with the idea of providing more access to neurological care for our community,” he added.
TTUHSC El Paso also has additional matching funds for endowed chairs and professorships in several speciality areas, including psychiatry, orthopedics, emergency medicine, surgery, and internal medicine.
Of note, the Cardwell Family Foundation is an affiliate of the El Paso Community Foundation.