A Miami-based primary care organization plans to invest $3.5 million in El Paso to open two health clinics.

MCCI Medical Group, which has operations in San Antonio and Corpus Christi, told El Paso Inc. it plans to open an Eastside location in a building formerly occupied by GECU and a second location in an office building in Central El Paso.

“We are going to lead the path and show our community doctors what level of operation we adhere to,” said Naomi Solis, regional director for MCCI Medical Group. “This is the first time we are opening up our own MCCI centers in El Paso.”

El Paso has long suffered an acute doctor shortage, and MCCI Medical Group’s investment in El Paso is the latest to bolster El Paso’s growing health care sector.

El Paso’s growth and its large population of Medicaid users sparked MCCI’s interest in the city, Solis said, adding that the company sees opportunity in communities where medical resources are scarce.

“Our bread and butter is our seniors – our Medicare manage patients,” she said.

Solis said the company has maintained a presence in El Paso since 2013, providing area physicians with training and assistance in business practices. The company manages more than 200 primary care offices in the area and has partnerships with Tenet Healthcare, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Salud y Vida and local physicians, she said.

“We contract with both large and small medical groups, everything from mom-and-pops to larger groups,” Solis said.

MCCI’s El Paso clinics will each include a Humana pharmacy, free shuttle service, mail-in prescription service, a kitchen and food pantry. They will also host community events such as health fairs at the clinics.

According to Solis, the clinics will accept Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, Medicaid and Medicare health insurance plans.

“At MCCI, each and every patient is seen by our doctors,” she said.

The number of physicians in El Paso has increased by about 30 percent since 2010, Texas Medical Board data show. There were 1,441 registered physicians in 2017, up from 1,119 in 2010.

The most significant increases were in internal medicine, orthopedic surgery and pediatrics.

Patsy Slaughter, executive director of the El Paso County Medical Society, said although the number of physicians has increased, there is still a shortage in El Paso.

Slaughter said growth in the health care industry in El Paso is good, but small physician practices struggle to keep up with the growth of large publicly and privately funded medical institutions.

“It has happened so quickly,” she said.

Nationwide, the number of physician practices owned by hospitals or health networks rose by 86 percent between 2012 and 2015, according to a study by Avalere Health, a Washington, D.C.-based health care consulting firm. By mid-2015, 38 percent of U.S. physicians were employed by hospitals and health networks.

Dr. Andres Enriquez, who operates a solo private practice on the Westside, said he has been approached by companies interested in buying him out, but he has rejected the offers because he enjoys working for himself.

Enriquez said when a large group comes into the market or large public health care providers expand, it affects his business. The trend, he said, has pushed solo-practitioners like him to accept buyouts or contracts with large groups

“I am going to have a hard time competing, but I like working for myself,” Enriquez said.

Email El Paso Inc. reporter Aaron Montes at amontes@elpasoinc.com or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 105, or (915) 777-4154. Twitter: @aaronmontes91