Expansion of campus at forefront of changes

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Medical College of Georgia President Daniel W. Rahn joked that he might hibernate through the end of the year.

Dan Rahn: President of the Medical College of Georgia says land and lots of funding are needed to expand MCG's campus.  Kendrick Brinson/Staff
Kendrick Brinson/Staff
Dan Rahn: President of the Medical College of Georgia says land and lots of funding are needed to expand MCG's campus.

"I'd like to get a few days of sleep between now and the first," he said with a laugh. He's going to need it.

In just the first few months of 2008, the school and medical education in Georgia will face crucial decisions that could shape the future for both. In January, consultant Tripp Umbach will likely deliver its report on expanding medical education in Georgia to the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. That report will probably touch on expanding medical education both at the flagship campus in Augusta and at other places in the state, including a satellite campus of the School of Medicine in Athens in conjunction with the University of Georgia, Dr. Rahn said.

"I think that will be a part of a multi component expansion," Dr. Rahn said. "But the foundation of expansion is growth here, and maximizing what we are able to do in Augusta. And then, at the same time, partnering for the purposes of expansion that cannot be accommodated here."

As part of its Augusta growth, MCG will have to figure out a way in the next few months to acquire the neighboring Gilbert Manor public housing area, he said.

"That would enable us to really have the footprint that we need to be able to expand here in Augusta," Dr. Rahn said. "What we need to do in the first quarter of 2008 is we need to have an agreement about what the strategy is going to be. I don't know that we have to have everything done at that juncture."

Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver has floated the idea of the city issuing bonds and purchasing the property to donate to MCG, an idea that Dr. Rahn welcomed.

"We're very excited about the potential of the city partnering with us because we think that's a really important step to enable us to expand here," he said. "And we do believe that the health benefit is huge but the economic impact on the region will be enormous as well."

The property could provide space for a new building for the School of Dentistry, potentially in conjunction with a medical commons that would house a new home for the School of Medicine. Also in the first few months of next year, the Georgia Legislature will consider a request from the Regents for $70 million to build the new dental school. The L egislature will likely be asked to further fund exploring the expansion of medical education in the state.

"We are going to need incremental funding, not just in the next state budget but also in years beyond that if we're to be able to expand," Dr. Rahn said. "We need to finalize what we're going to be able to do here in Augusta, and then also that's the time during which probably it will become clear whether the funding will be present for the dental school."

If that weren't enough, the school also gets a re accreditation visit in January that could determine whether it can expand the medical school class from 190 to 200 students a year.

"I think this next 90 to 120 days are going to be a very active time," Dr. Rahn said.

A couple of key reports for MCG will also come in the early months of 2008. The House Medical Education Study Committee, led by Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, will likely issue its report after it hears what the consultant Tripp Umbach has to say.

"I think we'll wait and see what (it) says because I think that's probably a very important component of what we were trying to figure out ourselves," Mr. Fleming said.

One outcome from the committee's work could be an effort to boost the number of state medical residency slots , where medical students finish their training after graduation. Where a doctor does his or her residency often influences where they stay to practice, Mr. Fleming said.

"We all recognize that could be a very important way that we keep more doctors in the state, just keeping more of the ones we already graduate," he said.

A consultant is also expected to report back on the potential for residencies in the Athens and Gainesville areas, where there are almost none. The first part of the report, due around the beginning of the year, will be to see whether there is support for the residency programs among the health systems in the area before specific planning can take place on what type of residency and where it will go, said Ben Robinson, the executive director of the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce. Residency programs are seen as a key component of educating medical students because residents spend a lot of time teaching students.

If everything seems to be coming to a head at once, it certainly needs to, Dr. Rahn said. The state's ranking in the number of physicians per 100,000 people dropped from 38th to 40th in the latest listing from the Association of American Medical Colleges. The state is 44th when looking at the number of primary care physicians per 100,000 residents.

"We continue to fall behind due in large part to the continued growth of the population, which is good, it's a good thing for the state," Dr. Rahn said. "But we really need to get on with it and we need to be aggressive in our strategies for expansion."

Though it might be a frenetic time, it means things are happening, he said.

"I share the mayor's enthusiasm about the future in Augusta and the extraordinary number of really exciting initiatives that are underway," Dr. Rahn said. "So we're really looking forward to a good year."

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

Comments (12) Add comment
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Riverman1
78434
Points
Riverman1 12/30/07 - 08:19 am
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It is presumptuous of Dr.

It is presumptuous of Dr. Rahn to say the study will probably find the second, Athens campus should be undertaken. I prefer to do what Rep. Barry Fleming has said and wait for the report. Dr. Rahn has to understand he and Dr. Adams of UGA can't continue to go off on their own making decisions that affect taxpayers with secret meetings in small towns. I. also, hope the report reflects the purchase of the Gilbert Manor property. The city, press and community have finally realized the danger to MCG having to fight for funds with an Athens school. It was also interesting that there are no residency slots in Athens although we hear about this great need in that area for physicians. We have heard totally fabricated reasons for another medical school campus in Athens.

aaa
2
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aaa 12/30/07 - 09:08 am
0
0
In the "old days", didn't MCG

In the "old days", didn't MCG partner with the Augusta area private community to help train students and residents? I bet University Hospital and local private physicians would love to get more involved - must of them seem to be graduates of MCG. MCG definitely needs the Gilbert Manor property - it only makes sense for physical expansion.

Riverman1
78434
Points
Riverman1 12/30/07 - 09:27 am
0
0
University is moving towards

University is moving towards having resident training programs. They used to have training programs in conjunction with MCG about 15 years ago. There are reasons physicians at hospitals all over Georgia don't welcome resident training programs. Competition... if the resident decides to stay after finishing training. It is going to take legislation and funding to increase resident training in Georgia.

Little Lamb
43537
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Little Lamb 12/30/07 - 12:15 pm
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0
The state legislature is

The state legislature is preparing to allocate the money to buy the Gilbert Manor property for MCG. It may take a little time, but it is coming. It is premature, presumptuous, and unnecessary for the city taxpayers (are you listening, Deke?) to pay for the property. Make 2008 a time for tax rollbacks, please.

dani
12
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dani 12/30/07 - 12:55 pm
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Little Lamb..Is this true? I

Little Lamb..Is this true? I understood that MCG would bear the expense of this entire project. Where did you get this information?

jack
10
Points
jack 12/30/07 - 02:58 pm
0
0
If MCG here can not or will

If MCG here can not or will not furnish adequate and safe housing for med students which they don't now, then I would have to support a sattelite campus in Athens with student housing.

iletuknow
7
Points
iletuknow 12/30/07 - 04:26 pm
0
0
MCG is as much as a tax payer

MCG is as much as a tax payer subsidized parasite as the people they are moving out!

Riverman1
78434
Points
Riverman1 12/30/07 - 08:27 pm
0
0
Jack, quality and economical

Jack, quality and economical housing is listed as one of the strong points by the students at MCG. You have to remember most are married, renting or buying houses in the CSRA. They don't live in dorms at the school.

SargentMidTown
8
Points
SargentMidTown 12/30/07 - 10:09 pm
0
0
Relocate Gilbert Manor far

Relocate Gilbert Manor far away from downtown Augusta. Put them close to the new bus depot on Davis road. The Sheriffs department needs to do a crime analysis for the last five years for Gilbert Manor. This will show Augustans how the Gilbert Manor residents will behave in a new neighborhood. You can take them out of the "hood" but, you cannot take the "hood" out of them.

goldie53
46
Points
goldie53 12/30/07 - 11:17 pm
0
0
There you go again

There you go again SargentMidTown. How did you come up so high? Born with a silver spoon in your mouth? Read my comments from Dec. 22nd article. Augustans are so ignorant.
I am one of those from the "hood". I have worked since I was 13 yrs old. I have accolades to my name and money also. All of this from working, investing and making it out of the "hood"
There are some of the same people in GM trying to do the same. Do not generalize and stigmatized everyone the same!

Farful
7
Points
Farful 12/31/07 - 03:11 pm
0
0
you can also take them out of

you can also take them out of the trees

sarahs mom
16
Points
sarahs mom 12/31/07 - 04:14 pm
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University got out of the

University got out of the outpatient clinic buiness.(about the same time they were out from under fed regs to provide indigent care) and therefore out of having residents at the hospital. Ask the OB/GYN doctors that trained at UH in the 80's if they rotated through "the clinic" at UH. I bet most say yes, and they loved it. UH isn't going to do anything unless it brings them in more money. Check their endowments, I wonder how many really go for what they where intially meant? I know this is a little off topic, but I don't see UH getting residetns back in the hospital unless they rotate through with an internist or the ER.

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