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Medical facility plan is revealed

July 08, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - West Virginia University is to break ground in September on a $6.4 million medical education facility that will be twice the size of the structure initially planned for the site adjacent to City Hospital in Martinsburg, an official with the school said Monday.

The federal government initially chipped in $3.4 million for construction of the WVU Health Sciences Center, Eastern Division, but another $3 million secured by U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., enabled officials to double the size of the facility, said Michael F. Friedland, dean of the school.

The building initially was planned as a one-story, 15,000-square-foot structure, but instead will be a two-story, 30,000-square-foot building, offering facilities such as a 200-seat auditorium, Friedland said.

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Members of the community wanted the auditorium so they would have a place to conduct large meetings related to medical issues, Friedland said.

Friedland estimated it will take 18 to 20 months to construct the facility. No contractor has been selected for the job, but the project will go out for bids in 30 to 60 days, Friedland said.

The training facility is being built in an attempt to lure needed doctors to the Eastern Panhandle. While the state averages 19.5 physicians for every 10,000 residents, the Eastern Panhandle has 10.7, according to state Bureau of Public Health records.

The WVU Health Sciences Center is expected 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 has 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.

Last year, the school's first three students began training through a 16-week pilot program.

On Monday, four more medical students began their last two years of training at the school, officials said.

The training currently is being offered in several offices in the Dorothy A. McCormack Cancer Treatment and Rehabilitation Center next to the hospital.

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

In addition to receiving training in the new facility, Friedland said 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 (W.Va.) Family Practice Center.

The first floor of the building will house the auditorium, individual study areas for up to 100 students, a library, about 10 study rooms, discussion rooms for small groups and five to 10 faculty rooms, Friedland said.

The second floor will be for administrative offices and other functions, Friedland said.

The facility will be built along Dry Run Road near the Dorothy A. McCormack Cancer Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, Friedland said. Because the site is separate from City Hospital, Friedland said he does not expect any interruptions to the hospital's operations during construction.

Hospital officials could not be reached for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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