UT Health Clinic In Mercedes Expands Care In The Mid-Valley
A network of UT Health RGV clinics have fanned out across the Rio
Grande Valley, and in the midst of these regional facilities is a health center in Mercedes that has brought family medicine, preventive care, sports medicine and a range of other services to the Mid-Valley.
The UT Health RGV/Knapp Family Health Center of Mercedes with over 16 exams rooms opened in 2017 as part of the clinical practice of the UTRGV School of Medicine. UT Health Rio Grande Valley is the clinical wing of the medical school and it is a considerable one with over 20 Valley clinics with all varieties of specialties such as neurology, pediatrics, women’s health and urology.
The focus is on family medicine at the Mercedes clinic. As with many of the RGV Health clinics, there is a partnership in effect with an area hospital, and with the Mercedes Clinic it’s Knapp Medical Center of Weslaco. The RGV/Knapp Family Health Center utilizes the services of medical students going through their residency who are under the supervision of practicing physicians who are also on the medical school’s faculty.
The program director at the Mercedes facility is. Dr. Miguel Tello, a home-grown physician who is also the chief of family medicine at Knapp Medical. Tello is an Edcouch-Elsa native who exemplifies a community-based physician with a commitment to family medicine.
“We look for (residents) with a love for family medicine and a love for the area they’re going to practice in,’’ Tello said.
The Mercedes health clinic is located across the street from the South Texas High School of Medical Professions and Tello noted that it’s within the realm of possibility that a student can attend the specialty high school, then someday go on to the UTRGV School of Medicine and proceed to do his or her residency at the RGV/Knapp health clinic in Mercedes.
“The whole life cycle,’’ is how Dr. Tello puts it in alluding to the range of possibilities and opportunities at the local level that are now available to Valley students interested in medicine.
“We certainly want to grow and develop doctors here and have them stay in the Valley,’’ said Linda Nelson, the senior director of clinical operations for the UTRGV School of Medicine. “We’re about the transformation of health care in the Valley.’’
A piece of that transformation is being seen at the RGV/Knapp Health Clinic in Mercedes. Residents who have completed medical school and come from all over the United States practice under the watch of physicians like Tello. The competition for the residents’ slots at the Mercedes facility is fierce. Tello said he and his staff will screen over 1200 candidates yearly before deciding on the six medical school graduates who will do their residency at the UT Health RGV/Knapp Family Health Center.
It’s not just about medical education. Tello and Nelson said improving access to health care and connecting to the communities they serve are key goals the RGV health clinics are working to achieve. The Mercedes clinic is open to everyone, serving the young, working families and Winter Texans, and takes private insurance as well as health coverage tied to government programs.
“It’s been a wonderful program,’’ said Nelson, who oversees all of the UT Health RGV clinics in the Valley. “The Mid-Valley has been very warm and welcoming, as has the whole Valley.’’
Ricardo D. Cavazos