The University of Pikeville cut the ribbon on the new home for the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM) on Sept. 15 as hundreds gathered in front of the historic 99 steps to celebrate the occasion.
“Since our founding, we have been remarkably successful in meeting our mission of producing high quality osteopathic physicians who will practice primary care in rural and underserved areas of Kentucky and Appalachia. This new facility will expand our ability to continue to meet that mission,” said Boyd R. Buser, D.O., FACOFP, vice president for health affairs and dean of the medical school.
Funding for the $40 million educational facility included grants from the James Graham Brown Foundation and the Appalachian Regional Commission, as well as a low-interest stimulus loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Administration and the New Market Tax Credit program that was created to stimulate development in underserved areas.
“We appreciate the help of our government, but the government can’t do it alone,” said President Paul E. Patton. “Many people and companies have made significant contributions to this project but the coal industry in particular has been extremely generous during a difficult economic struggle.”
“We are an America where individuals step up and do what it takes to make our communities better and there is no better example of private individuals and companies stepping up than what the coal industry has done to support this project, which will improve the health of our neighbors for generations to come,” said Patton. “The coal industry has sustained this region and this university, and we appreciate it! For that reason, the University of Pikeville Board of Trustees has named this building The Coal Building in honor of that industry and the coal miners who are the backbone of our society.”
Patton also acknowledged alumnus William Bevins and his wife, Ann Bevins, who provided a significant gift to fund the Dr. H. Clinton Bevins Clinical Skills Training and Evaluation Center. Located in The Coal Building, the state-of-the-art facility features 12 exam rooms and robotic simulators.
“This is the heart and soul of our unique medical school,” said Patton. “William Bevins’ father was a country doctor practicing on Lower Johns Creek in Pike County in the early part of the 20th century. Bill is a very successful businessman who graduated from Pikeville College in 1938. He and Ann have given one of the largest cash gifts this institution has ever received.”
The Coal Building includes research and teaching laboratories, an osteopathic manipulative medicine lab, classrooms, offices, student study spaces and a new cafeteria overlooking the Pikeville skyline that serves the entire campus. The new facility also accommodates a larger class size, which is in keeping with KYCOM’s mission to alleviate physician shortages in Kentucky and Appalachia, especially in rural areas.
Earlier on Saturday, first-year students participated in a traditional White Coat Ceremony, a rite of passage for beginning medical students. In the presence of family members, friends and the campus community, students from the Class of 2016 were “coated” by the Class of 2015.
KYCOM has earned high marks in rural medicine ranking 12th among all medical schools in the nation, both D.O. and M.D., in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 edition of Best Graduate Schools. Rising in the rankings, KYCOM also moved from its fifth-place standing to second in the percentage of graduates who enter primary care. Just last year, a U.S. News & World Report publication ranked KYCOM fifth in affordability among the 10 least expensive private medical schools in the nation.
In his keynote address, American Osteopathic Association President Ray E. Stowers, D.O., FACOFP dist., said that The Coal Building represents the people of Appalachia.
“There are going to be hundreds and thousands of lives affected and transformed by the graduates of the school,” he said. “There is no doubt about that.”
Congressman Hal Rogers, who also joined the university for the dedication ceremony, noted that a decade ago a medical school in the mountains was “nothing more than a vision.”
Early in the planning stages, Rogers, Pikeville businessman and university trustee Burlin Coleman and Patton, then governor of Kentucky, saw the medical school as a way to address the public out-cry for better access to health care and the need for more physicians. State and federal funds were secured, but the medical school’s success was left up to the university, according to Rogers.
“Sitting in the heart of coal country, you have given such a fitting tribute to the industry by naming this facility The Coal Building,” Rogers said. “Coal is the bedrock of Kentucky and the foundation for our region. The industry has done more than put food on the table for thousands of families. It has opened new doors of opportunity over the years by giving back to our region, creating flat land so we can build the facilities we need and providing the economic engine for growth across the state.”
Medicine in the Mountains … Keeping the Promise: Since its inception in 1997, the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine has played an important role in preparing physicians to serve the healthcare needs of underserved populations in Kentucky and other Appalachian Regions. Of the nearly 700 graduates since the first class of physicians in 2001, 60 percent are serving in the Appalachian regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia, as well as rural areas of eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and New York. Currently, 69 percent of these physicians are serving in primary care.
The Coal Building – At-a-Glance
Cost: $40 Million
Nine-story, 87,500 square foot building
Clinical Skills Training and Evaluation Center
High Fidelity Robotic Simulators
Research & Teaching Labs
Gross Anatomy Laboratory
Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Lab
Lecture Halls & Classrooms
Campus Cafeteria with seating capacity for 375
Created 278 temporary construction jobs
The Coal Building – By the Numbers
432,000 feet of electrical wire
115,000 feet of electrical conduit
7,483 cubic yards of concrete
307 tons of structural steel
857 gallons of paint
262 steps from ground to the roof
57,000 square feet of precast exterior panels
$1.5 million investment in instructional media
Interactive distance learning with the capability to connect to 20 remote sites simultaneously