Dell Medical School touts growing number of residents in new report


Report: The number of medical residents and fellows in Travis County is up by 30 percent since 2012.

The report released this week highlights other areas that Dell Medical School sees as progress in past year.

The number of medical residents and fellows providing care in Travis County clinics and hospitals is up by 30 percent since 2012, according to a report released this week by the University of Texas’ Dell Medical School.

In 2016, there were 287 residents working in county clinics and hospitals, up from 218 in 2012, the community benefit report says. That number is projected to grow to more than 300 by 2020.

When pressed at a Central Health meeting Wednesday night by board member Julie Oliver about why that number would only grow by about 13 in four years, the school’s dean, Clay Johnston, said that was a conservative estimate.

“The 300 is just reflecting commitments we’ve already made,” Johnston said in his presentation. “We actually expect the number to grow faster as we open new residency spots.”

Johnston also noted that residency programs roll over every two to four years, bringing new residents into the community and producing new physicians. The programs are funded primarily by a partnership with Seton Healthcare Family.

The report also highlights other areas that Dell Medical School considers it made progress in the past year, including that 79 percent of women in the recently redesigned perinatal care system are keeping postpartum appointments, up from about 40 percent previously, and that the yearlong wait for orthopedic appointment is down to three weeks.

OPINION: Changes to maternity safety net will improve Travis County care

“We think the real impact of our work … is the redesign,” Johnston said at Wednesday’s meeting. “Because … if (care is) provided where the outcomes are better and the costs are lower, we all win even more than having those additional (provider) positions.”

The third-annual report comes as the school and Central Health, the county health care district, face criticism from some community groups over the transparency of the school’s use of $35 million of taxpayer funds annually. Travis County voters agreed in 2012 to raise property taxes to make that contribution.

RELATED: At public meeting, Central Health’s reach, use of funds criticized

Officials argue that the school’s doctors and residents work in its affiliated clinics to take care of low-income patients, and in the long term the school will help attract and retain providers.

The report also shows that in the fiscal 2016-17 year, most of taxpayer funds, or a projected $46.1 million, have been used for compensation and employment-related expenses. The rest, $100,000, was used for information technology equipment and software.

Johnston told board members that compensation is the largest budget item at most medical schools, and Dell Medical School’s building costs are covered by other funding sources.

As for what’s next, the school plans to open new clinics in the early winter and will continue to work on clinical model redesigns, Johnston said.

No one spoke during citizens’ communication on Wednesday about the benefit report. Board members on Wednesday were mainly congratulatory of Dell Medical School for the work it has accomplished.

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