EDINBURG — Health care was the focus Saturday for state legislators visiting the Rio Grande Valley this weekend.

The legislative tour, organized by RGV Partnership, made a stop at the Edinburg Children’s Hospital, one of the facilities of South Texas Health Systems.

One expected takeaway was that STHS was dedicating resources to the care of children which includes a pediatric diabetes and endocrine clinic, said STHS Regional Vice President Charles Stark.

“The idea there is to help children deal with not only diabetes but also childhood obesity, which is a national epidemic,” Stark said, adding that he hoped they saw that funding was being put to good use. “It’s actually doing what it’s intended to do which is to help us to develop programs that meet the need of the community.”

In a presentation to the legislators, Stark touted that STHS had the only Level 2 trauma center in Hidalgo County and are pursuing Level 1 trauma designation.

Level 1 medical facilities provide the highest level of trauma care, complete with surgeons, anesthesiologists, specialists and equipment available 24 hours a day.

“We would like for them to understand that as well because we think trauma funding will be a topic in this legislative session and we would like them to understand that there are great resources here,” Stark said.

Also on hand was Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina who highlighted the benefits that STHS has brought to the city.

“(In) Edinburg alone, South Texas Health Systems has contributed greatly to our economy with more than 1,000 employees and an additional 700 physicians right here on staff,” Molina said.

The mayor also touched on the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, located in Edinburg, and their needs for funding.

“I’m asking you to help us in-hand here in Edinburg in funding the medical school, Level 1 trauma center, as well as clinical research,” Molina said.

“My request, if you want to know the mayor wants and I’m only one vote here, is that when passing legislation up in Austin please, please don’t forget about the Valley and understand the needs of the RGV are similar to any needs in your district in infrastructure, education, and more importantly in health care.”

State Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, said he was impressed to see the Valley consisted of many “self-starters.”

“They’re very innovative people down here that are brilliant, that have taken the bull by the horns, if you will, and solved the problem,” Toth said. “We need to do more to help funding-wise, I get that, but none of this could have happened if the state had tried to ordain it…to fix and to keep it here on the ground to fix it; it’s so impressive.”

After the presentation the legislators were given a tour of the different areas of the children’s hospital.

State Rep. Stan Lambert, R-Abilene, said the RGV tour, as a whole, was eye-opening to the different types of health care and education that are being offered in the Valley.

“We’re certainly interested in trying to give this region certainly that benefit of the Trauma 1 (Center) which all the other regions in Texas have available to them,” Lambert said. “That just brings a completely new level of service and expertise and resources to this region so we certainly understand why there is a need and a request for additional funding.”

But along with gaining new insight, Lambert said the visit also showed that healthcare needs are similar across the state.

“Just seeing how things operate, understanding that really health care is universal in terms of: what the needs are in north Texas are no different than in southeast Texas and in the Rio Grande Valley,” Lambert said. “So as Texans we need to be committed to taking care of all of our citizens.”

More on the session

AUDIO: Valley lawmakers on the 86th legislative session