May 4, 2022
HOUSTON – Two North Texas health entities have won the 2022 Texas Medical Association Foundation (TMAF) John P. McGovern Champion of Health Award. Project Access Tarrant County received the Top Award, and the Texas Health Physicians Group Virtual Visits Initiative received the Secondary Award. TMAF presented the awards Friday at TexMed, TMA’s annual conference, held this year in Houston.
The awards honor exceptional projects that address urgent public health threats as TMAF aims to help physicians create a healthier future for all Texans. The first-place recipient receives $7,500, and the second-place honoree receives $3,000. The funds help sustain or enhance the winning programs.
TMAF Champion of Health Top Award: Project Access Tarrant County
Project Access Tarrant County provides health care for uninsured patients using a network of volunteer physicians, partnering hospitals, charitable clinics, and other partners. The organization’s volunteers serve low-income and uninsured Tarrant County residents by coordinating care ranging from specialty visits to surgeries and other medical services.
Project Access volunteers serve residents who have no health coverage, live at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, and aren't covered by other community programs, city services, or nonprofits. The group operates under the umbrella of the Tarrant County Academy of Medicine, and volunteer physicians are Tarrant County Medical Society member doctors.
“We are honored to be recognized with the TMA Foundation’s John P. McGovern Champion of Health Award this year,” said Project Access Tarrant County Medical Director Stuart Pickell, MD. “We appreciate the ongoing support of the TMA Foundation as we continue to serve the uninsured residents of Tarrant County.”
The group’s mission is to expand health care access and improve health outcomes for area residents. Project Access strives to create a “medical home” for each of its patients. Approximately 300 volunteers provide patients with radiology services, colonoscopies, biopsies, anesthesia services, lab work, pathology, physical therapy appointments, and surgical procedures. Most of the 250 patients served each year are Hispanic members of the community who are underserved and might otherwise go without health care.
Secondary Award: Texas Health Physicians Group Virtual Visits Initiative
The goal of the Texas Health Physicians Group (THPG) Virtual Visits Initiative is to improve patients’ access to its clinics, physicians, and providers. The health care group’s virtual visits platform was in development when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, forcing an immediate need for the group’s more than 1,150 physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide care remotely to patients located across a 16-county North Texas area. THPG reports more than 506,000 virtual patient visits have occurred since March 2020, with more than 195,000 of them in 2021.
“While the pandemic was challenging, it also brought opportunities for innovation,” said Todd Richwine, DO, THPG family medicine physician and leader of the THPG Virtual Visits Initiative. “We strive to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve, and quickly launching the virtual visits allowed us to continue safe, quality patient care.
“We’ve invested in a secure, stable platform – reinforcing the fact that virtual visits are an initiative we’ll continue to offer to our patients.”
Patients indicate they value the TPHG virtual visit service, with survey scores for their virtual visit experience significantly higher than for their traditional in-office visits.
THPG’s mission is to improve the health of the more than 7 million residents in the communities it serves. Allowing patients to see their doctor from their homes reduced potential exposure to the coronavirus, and helped caregivers conveniently follow patients with chronic disease.
TMAF named its Champion of Health award after the late John P. McGovern, MD, a philanthropist, scholar, and noted allergist who founded the John P. McGovern Foundation in Houston. Dr. McGovern established a permanent endowment at TMAF, which supports this award.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 56,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans. The TMA Foundation raises funds to support the population health, science, medical education and quality-of-care priority initiatives of TMA and the Family of Medicine.
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Contact: Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320 brent[dot]annear[at]texmed[dot]org
Swathi Narayanan (512) 370-1382; cell: (408) 987-1318 swathi[dot]narayanan[at]texmed[dot]org
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