U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small toured Silver City’s Hidalgo Medical Services building and talked about her new rural health care bill Saturday.
Darrick Nelson, chief medical officer and family medicine residency program director of HMS, led the tour of the building as Torres Small followed behind. Also following along on the tour were HMS administration, faculty and physicians. Torres Small had nothing but great words about HMS.
“It’s really exciting to see how intentional the facility is about setting up a medical home — making sure that when a patient comes, all of their medical needs … are addressed in one setting,” Torres Small said. “To see the connection between mental health and physical health, as well as dental health. To also see the connection with prescriptions, ensuring that when you come for a visit here, you can also get your medication quickly.”
HMS CEO Dan Otero had the chance to talk to Torres Small about their integrated health care delivery system.
“One of the most touching things that was said during this visit was, hopefully, at some point, Grant County will not be an underserved area,” Torres Small said, “but our job here is to train rural [doctors] who want to practice throughout rural America, and I think that is a key part. We should be working on supporting residency pilots across New Mexico, and also getting doctors who are graduates of the existing programs to places throughout rural New Mexico.”
Torres Small talked about a bill called Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act, of which she is the co-sponsor.
“So, this bill reauthorizes the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program,” she said. “It increases funding to recognize cost-of-living increases and it also would add additional funds to address some of the gap between the authorized level and the actual residencies allotted.”
The Teaching Health Center program impacts rural communities, according to Torres Small.
“We know there is a primary care physician shortage across the United States,” she said. “And residents who go through the THC [Teaching Health Center] program are more likely than other residents to end up in primary care. They are also more likely than other residents to end up serving underserved areas and they are more likely than other residents to end up serving rural America.”
According to Torres Small’s website, the act would provide “more than $100 million in new funding to establish new teaching health centers across the country.” The bill is still in committee.
C.P. Thompson may be reached at cp@scdaily press.com.