Specializing in Care

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The Rio Grande Valley’s evolution can be seen most clearly through its quality of healthcare. Education has been elevated with a medical school and numerous industry-specific certification paths, as well as community colleges looking to fill the employment needs.

One of the biggest indicators of the region’s rise in the field is the number of specialist physicians. This not only shows that doctors are staying in the area to teach and practice, but also allows RGV residents to stay close to home for treatment, rather than drive hundreds of miles for the same care.

Dr. Alberto Peña is a colorectal specialist in the Valley. He is a graduate of Edinburg High School and when he left for college, he had no plans to return. Time made him wiser.

“When I first left, I had my life packed in my car and I swore that I was never going to come back,” Dr. Peña said. “Then I got a little older, a little wiser, and I saw all of the opportunity in the Valley.

“It’s a wonderful place to come back to practice. I’m honored to take care of my people. There are lots of pathology and unusual cases, but more importantly, the people down here are fantastic. They are hard-working and appreciative to have good healthcare — and that’s the best part.”

According to Dr. Peña, he and his Texas Digestive partner Dr. Dustin Luebbers are the only doctors in the RGV focusing only on the medical and surgical treatment of the colon and rectum, which Dr. Peña believes was long overdue.

“It’s a great time to be in the Valley,” he said. “Healthcare is not where it was 15 or 20 years ago. You don’t need to leave the Valley for expertise in your care. You’re able to have the same opportunity you would otherwise if you went out of town. It’s an extremely exciting time period with the medical school, the technology, and advances we have.”

Dr. Luebbers is newer to the region, but is proud to put advanced technology and superior care to work for Valley residents.

“It has come a long way,” Dr. Luebbers said. “In the old days, it used to be open surgery and patients would be in the hospital for a long time.

“Now, we use robotics, So, in the belly, the magnification is 10-times more. The surgery is more precise. Patients are leaving the hospital two days after major surgery. We’re getting better oncological outcomes, living longer, and just doing better.”

Dr. Luebbers, who is originally from Georgia, explained that his affinity for this area grew quickly.

“After doing my residency down here, I would notice people would get a diagnosis, and they had to get other care away from their family,” Dr. Luebbers said. “It’s important to patients because these are the people of the Rio Grande Valley.”

He has been with the practice for just a few months, but has already put down roots in the RGV with a wife from the area and a child born in the Valley.

“Many of the conditions we treat — especially cancers — have become so involved,” Dr. Luebbers said. “It’s more precise care. We’re able to get your colonoscopy right away and to a surgeon right away so you don’t feel lost if you get that bad diagnosis.

“It’s a big need. There are a lot of people down here and they deserve the quality care that we can provide.”

Dr. Peña emphasized the importance of consuming enough fiber and going in for regularly scheduled colonoscopies — about every 10 years after the age of 50.

“One of the most important things to take care of your health in this area is to keep up with your colonoscopy,” Dr. Peña said. “It’s the most important examination because it’s a preventative exam. People can actually prevent cancer; not just treat it, not just find it but actually prevent it. That’s the important part.”

 

Nathaniel Mata