ODESSA, Texas — It had been over two decades since Odessa hosted a Texas Tech University Board of Regents meeting, but that is no longer the case.
The board held meetings Thursday and Friday at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Odessa, and it was fitting at that venue for health care to be a topic of discussion.
The TTUHSCs in both Odessa and Midland were included in activity for the board, with telehealth in rural communities a focus, something that certainly pertains to West Texas.
“So why the regents are here, and also leadership across our entire system, we're really going to showcase some of our really exciting events around telehealth and access to health care through telehealth," said Lori Rice-Spearman, Ph.D., President of TTUHSC. "We're also going to look a little bit at our innovation in the digital space, what we're doing as far as expanding access to health care through digital health, and really reaching out to individuals who are in rural areas and have little access to health care.”
The TTUHSC campuses in the Permian Basin were featured over the two days, with the meetings taking place in Odessa and an open house in Midland.
“We're excited to bring the group here from all across the state and show them the wonderful things that are happening within the school of medicine, the school of nursing and the school of health professions, and the growth that has occurred," said Rice-Spearman.
While health care has improved, “health care is now again available after too long of a period of the community not receiving the care that it deserved," said one speaker.
There is still more of a workforce needed, “we’re looking for people for the PA [Physician Assistant] program," said one speaker. "We’re looking for people for the medical school, the nursing school, the pharmacy school.”
As rural communities continue to try and better health care, TTUHSC has served more than 160,000 clinical telehealth visits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It appears that a health care avenue is just getting started to try and help those located far away from a provider.
“What we decided to do is to try to explore increasing health care, rural health care and telehealth support," said one speaker. "Improving organ and tissue allocation and delivery.”
“To try and understand how we could use commercial drones – not unlike the ones you’ve seen out front – for the support of healthcare delivery, and I thought ‘yeah that’s really great’," said one speaker.
Other action that came out of the meetings included naming Dr. John Gachago as the Executive Director for Telehealth Technology and Innovation for TTUHSC.
He will officially start on March 6 to help build on what TTUHSC has done already, while also looking to continue to advance it.