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$17 million gift to children’s hospital announced by Judy Quisenberry
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$17 million gift to children’s hospital announced by Judy Quisenberry

Access to specialty care for children in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) is soon to improve greatly.

Driscoll Children’s Hospital (DCH) and the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation are collaborating to provide the best care possible for the children in South Texas by recruiting new pediatric specialists to this medically underserved region.

A transformative $17 million gift to Driscoll Children’s Hospital, the largest donation in the hospital’s 70-year history, from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation will enable Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley to bring new, world-class specialty pediatric doctors to the RGV.

The donation will be used solely for recruitment and start-up costs of new specialty pediatric doctors who will be relocating to the Valley. The goal is to bring dozens of new pediatric specialists and subspecialists to the region in the next three years.

The Rio Grande Valley is one of the most medically underserved regions in the United States, based on data from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), having limited access to pediatric healthcare services, primarily, due to a shortage of specialized providers.

The Rio Grande Valley region has a shortage of pediatricians, with only 14.9 pediatricians per 100,000 children, roughly 30% of the national average. With the opening of the region’s first free-standing designated children’s hospital in late 2023, Driscoll’s ability to recruit additional full-time pediatric specialists will be critical to providing specialty and acute care close to home.

“Improving access to specialty care for children of the Rio Grande Valley has been a priority for Driscoll Children’s Hospital for a long time. Rio Grande Valley pediatricians have done yeoman’s work in providing care with limited resources available to them and their patients. We are extremely excited to be able to better support these dedicated doctors with a wide spectrum of specialists and a world-class children’s hospital here at home. We are equally grateful to the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation for their support of this endeavor,” said Matt Wolthoff, President of Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley.

By 2040, the population of the four counties in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy) is projected to reach 1.6 million, representing a growth of 16.8% over the next two decades. The increase is expected to put additional pressure on healthcare services in the region, especially for children, and Driscoll is working hard to get ahead of it.

“This gift from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation will be instrumental in enhancing our ability to recruit and retain difficult-to-find pediatric specialists and subspecialists to the Rio Grande Valley, dramatically improving access to specialty health care for children and families,” said Wolthoff.

Over the next several years, the financial impact on the Valley will be tremendous. Adding so many new pediatric specialists, subspecialists, and their families will have a domino effect from which this entire South Texas community will benefit. Once Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley is fully operational, it is expected to inject $107.1 million into the Valley’s economy and create more than 1,200 jobs in the region.

This gift aligns with the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation’s goal to address the area’s healthcare-related needs fully.

“The Board and Staff are proud to support Driscoll’s expansion into the Rio Grande Valley. Though Driscoll has taken care of Valley children for many years, they’ll become part of our community now in a whole new way! These new pediatric specialists will make their homes here and be invested in our community. In addition, bringing these physicians and teams of experts to our region will enable our families to stay home and receive the family support they need while their children receive excellent medical care,” said Judy Quisenberry, Executive Director of Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation.

“Driscoll is so thankful for the generosity of the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation to the children of the Rio Grande Valley. Their transformative gift allows Driscoll to help those who need help the most. All the children of South Texas will benefit from having a stronger, healthier Rio Grande Valley,” said Eric Hamon, President and CEO of Driscoll Health System.

“At Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley, we are building more than a building. We are building a team of dedicated pediatric specialists to make a great community an even better one. We are honored to have the opportunity to serve the children and families of the Rio Grande Valley,” said Wolthoff.

Judy Quisenberry-led Valley Baptist Medical Foundation was formed in 1976 with a mission to raise funds to support the infrastructure of the Valley Baptist Health System.  For more than 30 years, the Foundation has successfully raised millions of dollars through events, capital campaigns, grant writing, and planned giving programs that enhanced the infrastructure of hospitals and educational offerings for employees and the community as a whole.

On September 1, 2011, Valley Baptist Health System and Vanguard Health Systems entered into a joint venture, and in 2015, Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation sold the remaining 49% to Tenet Healthcare.  As a result of these transactions, the Foundation received proceeds that are the source of funds for their grant-making program. They no longer use donations to benefit Valley Baptist hospitals; instead, we identify and address the healthcare-related needs of the community through a strategic grant-making program.

The name changed to Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation to better communicate their new mission, simply known as The Legacy Foundation. The Foundation continues in the tradition of excellence set forth by the two Valley Baptist hospitals, both of which opened in the 1920s and have a long and deep tradition of supporting the health needs of residents in the lower Rio Grande Valley.

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