University of Houston Open Safety-Net Health Clinic For Low-Income Residents

As part of its planned medical school, the University of Houston (UH) has announced it has partnered with Georgetown-based Lone Star Circle of Care to open a safety-net health clinic for low-income people living in the Houston area.

Lone Star Circle of Care currently operates 19 clinics of this kind around the state of Texas. Known as federally qualified health centers, the clinics provide health care to patients regardless of their ability to pay, according to the Chron.

“This is really a win-win all the way around,” said Dr. Stephen Spann, founding dean of the UH medical school. “It helps us in our mission to provide care to this community. It provides us with a clinic on campus where we can train students and where our faculty can be involved in the care of patients and it partners us with an excellent FQHC.”

The federally qualified health centers charge patients without health insurance for their services on a scale that is increasingly needed assistance in the Third Ward area that the university’s medical school is set to serve.

Residents of the Third Ward area experience higher percentages of chronic disease like diabetes and hypertension than the greater Houston population.

The new clinic is also predicted to help the university’s application for accreditation of the medical school, which would be the first-ever accredited medical school in Houston in almost 50 years.

So far, the plan has been approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, but is awaiting accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.

Spann plans to submit application for accreditation soon, he said. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education accreditation process usually takes almost a year that could allow the university to begin enrolling students in its target semester, fall 2020.

University plans also call for the medical school to focus on training primary-care doctors to practice in underserved areas, a significant need in Houston and throughout the state.

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