Tuesday, April 16, 2024

3:50 pm
4:30 pm
Torrey Hills A/B, Level 3
Equality + Access
Wellness/Mental Health
Workforce Learning

Enhancing Inclusivity in Rio Grande Valley: Tackling Rural Health Equity and Workforce Challenges

Health and higher education industry experts are joined by leaders from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley (RGV) to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as it relates to rural America. The region has 24.7% of families living below poverty level, nearly triple the percentage for the U.S., according to the RGV Health Connect Organization. The population struggles with diabetes, obesity, and cervical cancer among other health issues. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the region’s challenges with heightened inequities. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, RGV is projected to have the state’s greatest percentage of unmet demand for nurses at 27.2%, representing 6,274 full-time nursing positions by 2032. The region will face a shortage of 722 primary care full-time equivalents by 2030.

RGV, a microcosm of rural America’s disparity and inequity barriers, is home to some of the poorest counties in the United States where access to healthcare is unaffordable for many residents. This session will focus on propelling a massive healthcare and workforce overhaul in the RGV region, followed by replicable actions in other rural areas of the country, to drive impact and enhance inclusivity. The vision is to think beyond geographical borders to foster sustainable and scalable solutions that optimize the nation’s overall rural health equity structure.