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Medical campus gets boost

A $1 million award from the state budget digest ensures that the WVU Health Sciences Center, Eastern Division, will be built on

A $1 million award from the state budget digest ensures that the WVU Health Sciences Center, Eastern Division, will be built on

July 01, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - State lawmakers have awarded $1 million for a medical education campus in the Eastern Panhandle, a funding allocation that will ensure the realization of the project, the dean of the school said Sunday.

The $1 million was awarded through the state budget digest, a document that specifies how money will be spent in the 2002-03 budget passed this year, said Del. John Doyle, D-Jefferson, who worked to secure the funding.

There has been an effort to establish a medical education campus in the Eastern Panhandle in hopes of luring more potential doctors to the area.

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The new facility will be built on the grounds of City Hospital in Martinsburg.

It is hoped that after receiving their training here, doctors will stay in the area, which is "medically underserved," said Michael F. Friedland, who is dean of the new school, called WVU Health Sciences Center, Eastern Division.

In West Virginia, there are 16.8 doctors for every 10,000 people, compared to 20 doctors nationally. In the Eastern Panhandle, there are 9.3 doctors for every 10,000 people, state health officials have said.

"This is our way to try to respond to that need," Friedland said Sunday.

So far, $5.4 million has been raised for the school, said Friedland, a resident of Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Of that amount, $3.4 million came from the federal government and $2 million, which includes the recent budget digest money, has come from the state, Friedland said.

The $3.4 million will be used to build a 15,000-square-foot educational building at City Hospital and the remaining $2 million will be used for education, Friedland said.

Construction on the building could begin as early as late summer, Friedland said.

The WVU Health Sciences Center hopes to attract potential doctors to the area by recruiting medical students from West Virginia University, Marshall University and a medical school in Lewisburg, W.Va., Friedland said.

The center would attract students who have completed one or two years of their college education. They would move to the center to finish their remaining schooling, Friedland said.

Other educational programs will be offered at the center, including one that opens medical education opportunities to economically disadvantaged people and minorities, Friedland said.

Besides receiving training in the new facility at City Hospital, Friedland said the students will receive training at City Hospital, Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va., the Veterans Affairs Medical Center near Martinsburg and the Harpers Ferry Family Practice Center.

The center's pilot program is expected to begin in September with about eight medical students, Friedland said.

The center is also being developed to meet medical needs in other Eastern Panhandle counties including Pendleton, Tucker, Grant, Hardy, Hampshire and Mineral.

Other programs funded through the budget digest include $200,000 for the Shepherd College/James Rumsey Technical Consortium, Doyle said.

The consortium was formed to provide much-needed work force training programs for Eastern Panhandle residents, lawmakers have said.

The effort has already led to the formation of The Regional Printing Institute, which helps local people learn the skills they need to join the rapidly growing printing industry in the Tri-State area.

Now the consortium wants additional funding so it can offer job training courses related to aircraft production, a new segment of the area's economy, Doyle said.

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