by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND--A one of kind wellness center rolled out the red carpet in the Tall City on Tuesday.
It's name sake, a former First Lady and her mother. And it represents their support and advocacy for women's health.
The Laura W. Bush Institute for Women's Health is the only University research center in Texas, whose main focus is women's health.
Officials call the Jenna Welch Wellness Center, the jewel in Texas Tech Health Sciences Center's crown, when it comes to providing health care in the Permian Basin and all of West Texas.
"It provides clinical research, medical education and community partnership to deliver outstanding medical care for women and their families," TTUHSC President, Dr. Tedd Mitchell, said.
A project, years in the making, is now complete. Former First Lady Laura W. Bush joined her 91-year-old mother Jenna Welch for the dedication of the wellness center that bears her name.
"Midland has been my mother's home for the past 64 years. Advocating for the good health of women has been a focus of mine for many years, because I believe that lifelong, good health begins with awareness," Bush said.
A staff of 35 employees and 15 physicians and professors will provide everything from general OBGYN services to important research to West Texas residents who might not be able to get it anywhere else.
The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center serves 108 counties in the state of Texas, and they've been doing it for several years.
According to Dr. Virginia Rauth, Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs, "All of the small communities all around West Texas have been served by Texas Tech for over 30 years, in all of the different cities, Lubbock, Amarillo, Odessa. The Odessa/Midland area has served people for almost that long as well."
Until now, research studies were focused on men. Having this new facility in the area, shifts the focus on women's health and will make all the difference in the world. Of course, having a recognizable name, doesn't hurt either.
"The center is named to honor Mrs. Welch, in recognition of the special bond between mothers and daughters and the important influence these relationships play in women's health and wellness," Dr. Mitchell said.
"It's just a real plus to have this institute in our local area that we can focus on," Dr. Rauth said.
According to the former First Lady, "There are a lot of ways the research that goes on at the LBIWH, JWWC and TTUHSC can serve, not just our country, but our whole border region and be an example to the rest of our country."
Work on the multi-service facility began in 2008. They also provide family medicine for men and children.