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Pikeville College holds groundbreaking for new medical school facility

October 08, 2010 4:53 PM
Pikeville College celebrated the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Pikeville College School of Osteopathic Medicine (PCSOM) on Friday, Oct. 8, with a groundbreaking ceremony for the medical school’s new educational facility and expanded clinical skills center.

On behalf of the executive committee of the college’s board of trustees, President Paul E. Patton announced that the facility would be named the “Coal Building.”

“We thought it a fitting tribute to recognize the coal industry’s longstanding support of Pikeville College and its status as the primary industry of central Appalachia,” said Patton.

The nine-story structure will be built in the former location of the Marvin Student Center, alongside the college’s historic 99 steps. The new facility will include two lecture halls, a gross anatomy lab, two research labs, offices, small group classrooms and student study space. A clinical skills training and evaluation center that will house 12 specially-equipped examination rooms will be within the building and serve as training and testing centers for students in programs using standardized patients and high-fidelity robotic patient simulators. Students in the Elizabeth Akers Elliott Nursing Program will also be able to utilize the space for similar training. An expanded osteopathic manipulative medicine lab and clinic will provide learning opportunities, as well as housing PCSOM’s free community clinic. Plans for the building also include a new cafeteria for the campus community.

“Pikeville College has served this region for 121 years,” Patton said. “This project will make certain we continue in that role for a long time to come. This expansion is possible because of the cooperation of the entire community. The City of Pikeville and Pike County government have been partners with the college for many years and have been very accommodating as we prepare to move forward. The efforts of the federal, state and local government, along with significant philanthropic support, will reduce the cost of tuition for those attending our medical school in the future.

“The state’s Osteopathic Medicine Scholarship program for Kentucky students has made medical school affordable for many of our citizens and contributed substantially to the number of primary care physicians practicing in rural areas of Kentucky,” said Patton.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers participated in the groundbreaking, along with Thomas Fern, USDA state director for Rural Development.

Beshear presented a $500,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant for the construction of a new facility.

“Pikeville College’s expansion will be critical in addressing the Commonwealth’s shortage of physicians and will improve health care access for Kentuckians, particularly in rural areas of the state,” said Beshear. “Access to a primary care physician greatly affects individual health status, and this project will help meet the medical needs of our citizens.”

The new educational facility and expanded clinical skills center is expected to cost $25 million. Ancillary costs will elevate the project to about $30 million. Pikeville College initiated a capital construction campaign last fall and anticipates receiving $8-10 million in gifts, grants and corporate support for the project. The building is scheduled for completion in March 2012.

In late September, the USDA Rural Development administration announced that the college had been selected to receive a $26.5 million loan to construct the new building.

“This Recovery Act project will enable more students, especially those in the Appalachian region, to pursue their goals of higher education in the medical field,” said Fern. “Healthcare is a priority of this administration, and the Community Facilities loan and grant program is one of many at USDA that ensure rural communities can create wealth, be self-sustaining and thrive economically.”

“The 40-year, four percent rural development loan will ensure that this project materializes,” said Patton. “The ARC grant demonstrates that our state government recognizes the vital service the Pikeville College School of Osteopathic Medicine provides to the Appalachian region.”

PCSOM celebrated a milestone in May, graduating its 10th class of osteopathic physicians. “Kentucky is already facing a critical physician shortage, which is expected to worsen in the coming years,” said Boyd Buser, D.O., dean of the medical school. “This new facility will expand our ability to help meet the need of the medically underserved areas of rural Kentucky and Appalachia. We have kept the promise we made when the school was founded, and we are committed to doing even more in the future.”

Since its inception over a decade ago, many generous gifts have been invested in the medical school. PCSOM was the dream of Paintsville attorney G. Chad Perry III, a visionary whose generosity and perseverance paved the way for a new generation of doctors to provide primary care in medically underserved areas of Eastern Kentucky and the Appalachian region. Perry was joined in the effort by community and regional leaders in East Kentucky, along with major corporations and foundations interested in enhancing and improving the welfare of the people of the region. Significant grants have also been received from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the United States Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Rural Utilities Service.

Pikeville College is an independent, four-year liberal arts and sciences college in the heart of central Appalachia. Founded in 1889 by Presbyterian ministers seeking to provide educational opportunities for mountain youth, the college has played an integral role in the educational, economic and cultural development of its service area for more than a century. Recently ranked as one of the top 20 medical schools in the nation in rural medicine by U.S. News & World Report, the Pikeville College School of Osteopathic Medicine was established in 1997 to provide men and women with an osteopathic medical education that emphasizes primary care, encourages research, promotes lifelong scholarly activity and produces graduates who are committed to serving the health care needs of communities in Eastern Kentucky and other Appalachian regions.
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