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Protecting Communities

South Texas College, Hidalgo, and Starr Counties begin collaboration seeking to mitigate spread of COVID

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Left to right, South Texas College President Dr. Ricardo J. Solis, STC Trustee Dr. Alejo Salinas, Board Chair Rose Benavidez, and Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez announced their partnership to provide immunization coverage in communities in the Rio Grande Valley.
Left to right, South Texas College President Dr. Ricardo J. Solis, STC Trustee Dr. Alejo Salinas, Board Chair Rose Benavidez, and Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez announced their partnership to provide immunization coverage in communities in the Rio Grande Valley.

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MCALLEN, TX – Achieving sufficient immunization coverage in the community is the best way to mitigate and end the current pandemic.

This was the message conveyed by leaders with South Texas College and Hidalgo County who have announced they will work collaboratively, alongside their counterparts in Starr County, to provide effective and equitable COVID-19 vaccines to community members. 

South Texas College Board Chair Rose Benavidez, South Texas College Trustee Paul R. Rodriguez, and South Texas College President Dr. Ricardo J. Solis announced the college’s partnership with Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez at a press conference Aug. 4. 

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“Today we are commemorating the efforts with the county as the largest higher education institution and provider of healthcare training in South Texas. South Texas College is known for its excellence in community engagement, and this partnership is a testament to that mission,” Dr. Solis said. 

“We will mobilize and prepare our students in order to accelerate the response to delivering vaccinations to meet the community health needs in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Trustees, Dr. Solis, and Judge Cortez made the formal announcement at STC’s Nursing and Allied Health Campus Wednesday afternoon.

“Today we formally celebrate a partnership that is not just ongoing but that has been a very important component of south Texas,” Trustee Benavidez said. “It’s mission and purpose of our efforts is to educate our residents and to ensure that we are a partnership in public health and public safety.” 

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At the event, STC announced that it will utilize its Vocational Nursing (VN), Associate Degree Nursing (ADN), and Paramedic students to hold vaccination drive events at all of its campuses in the near future, the details of which will be discussed with the Vaccine Equity Committee for RGV.

Working the with that committee, STC will help develop strategies for communities with lower vaccination rates. 

STC has already received requests for vaccine drive assistance from local school districts, which are presently organizing back-to-school campaigns in the coming weeks. In response, the college intends to send out senior ADN students to those locations. 

“South Texas College is not only known for providing educational opportunities but also for community service that responds to meeting the healthcare needs of the counties that we serve,” said Dr. Jayson Valerio, Dean of Nursing and Allied Health. “I am proud of our institution, that we (will) work side by side with the county to end the pandemic as our primary goal.

“I believe our micro efforts will yield macro effects in combatting COVID -19,” Dr. Valerio said.

STC has partnered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with Hidalgo and Starr counties to support testing and vaccination efforts that have helped protect our communities.  The College is committed to supporting these ongoing public safety efforts, with a renewed focus on providing vaccines to school- and college-bound students and their families.

Educating the community about the importance of COVID-19 vaccine is a crucial priority in ensuring acceptance, according to Judge Cortez.

“What really defines us is what we do for one another, and we find ourselves in tough spot. Being a community minded area is extremely important, and for STC to hurry up and say ‘Hey we’re here we want to be a part of the solution not part of the problem,’ really tells you how good of an institution we have in the Rio Grande Valley,” Cortez said. “Under the circumstances, the best thing we can do is get vaccinated.

“For us to have South Texas College and all their personnel really helps us, and that’s a big deal,” Cortez said.

South Texas College will work collaboratively with Hidalgo and Starr Counties’ efforts to provide effective and equitable COVID-19 vaccines to the community.

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