MCG leader revisits concerns

Special
MCG President Daniel W. Rahn reiterated that the college isn't moving, only that an extension of the campus is possible.

Attorney Louis Saul hopped to his feet Thursday to chastise Medical College of Georgia President Daniel W. Rahn at the Augusta West Rotary Club meeting.

"Why are you trying to move the medical school?" he asked. "You have a responsibility to protect (MCG)."

And as he has for the past few months, Dr. Rahn sought to allay Augusta concerns while carefully laying out the rationale for looking at planning a satellite campus of MCG's medical school in Athens in conjunction with the University of Georgia. He later repeated this rationale for his own faculty during the General Faculty Assembly.

There is no proposal to change who governs MCG, a common Augusta fear should UGA become involved, and no current faculty, staff or students are moving, Dr. Rahn said. Nor will any resources be split between Augusta and the proposed satellite, he said.

The issue has been a political hot potato since it surfaced in January, when Gov. Sonny Perdue included $3.6 million for planning the Athens satellite in his budget request for next year.

That funding is now $2.8 million that will go to the University System of Georgia Board of Regents for planning an expansion of the medical school in both Athens and Augusta, but that budget has not been signed by Mr. Perdue, Dr. Rahn said.

MCG expanded from 180 medical students per class to 190 and hopes to soon move to 200, Dr. Rahn said, which is about the limit of its current facilities. And it will get help in graduate medical education from University Hospital, which has agreed to start taking obstetrics residents as early as next week, said J. Larry Read, CEO of University Health Care System. University also has rehired a director for medical education to further the collaboration, he said.

"I am going to pursue every opportunity here," he said. But ultimately, particularly for clinical teaching opportunities, MCG will have to look to other areas of the state, Dr. Rahn said. And it is important that MCG be the one planning and leading that effort, he said.

"I believe if we don't, it will happen without us," Dr. Rahn said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.