Athens leaders tour MCG-UGA medical campus

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Athens community leaders and University of Georgia administrators got a preview of Athens' new medical campus Tuesday and said goodbye to one of the men who helped make the facility possible - Medical College of Georgia President Dan Rahn. Rahn will step down Thursday to take over as chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

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University of Georgia President Michael Adams, center, and others take a look at the anatomy lab Tuesday while touring the new Medical College of Georgia-UGA Medical Partnership campus at the old mill buildings on Williams Street in Athens.  Morris News Service
Morris News Service
University of Georgia President Michael Adams, center, and others take a look at the anatomy lab Tuesday while touring the new Medical College of Georgia-UGA Medical Partnership campus at the old mill buildings on Williams Street in Athens.

Athens-Clarke Mayor Heidi Davison, Athens Area Chamber of Commerce President Doc Eldridge, former state legislator Louise McBee and three members of the state Board of Regents toured the temporary home of the medical college, along with several vice presidents, deans and other top administrators from UGA and the Medical College in Augusta.

Five years ago, Rahn and UGA President Michael Adams began meeting to talk about how the state needs more doctors and whether Athens might host a new medical training program, Dr. Barbara Schuster, dean of the medical campus, told the crowd.

Those meetings were the beginning of the medical campus in Athens, officially called the Medical College of Georgia-University of Georgia Medical Partnership.

Georgia ranks 41st among the 50 states for the number of physicians per 100,000 people, and also fares poorly in other public health comparisons, Adams said.

Starting a medical campus in Athens was and is the right idea, Rahn said.

"It is extraordinarily worthwhile. It has not been easy," he said. "The beneficiaries of this will be the future citizens of this state."

As Schuster, Adams and Rahn spoke to about 100 people on a patio outside the old mill buildings that will be the medical partnership's first home, workers inside the 152-year-old buildings were working out the last bugs in an ultramodern computer and high-definition video system. The system will link all the building's classrooms and also will allow students in Athens to take part in classes held on the main Medical College of Georgia campus in Augusta.

Classes for the first group of medical students are scheduled to begin in less than a year, in August 2010. Some prospective students will get a look when the campus hosts a pair of open house days in October and November.

Many offices remain empty; only about half the faculty who will teach students in their first two years have been hired, Schuster said.

Just 40 students will enroll in the first class at the medical campus, but by 2020 - after the first class is practicing medicine - officials plan to increase class size to 60 students per year. The School of Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia campus in Augusta also is increasing enrollment in the next few years, from 180 up to 240 students a year, for a total of 300 students per class at the two locations.

The new campus in Athens will do more than increase the number of doctors in the state, said Svein Oie, dean of UGA's College of Pharmacy.

Pharmacy students will be able to work closely with medical students, he said.

"This is the future for us, because all medicine is going to be a team approach," he said.

COMING TOGETHER

The plan to create a medical and public health college on the 58-acre campus of the Navy Supply Corps School in Normaltown began in 2005, when the U.S. Navy decided to relocate the mission as a part of the Base Realignment and Closure program. Other important dates in the University of Georgia-Medical College of Georgia collaboration include:

April 2007 - Georgia legislators approve spending $2.8 million to expand medical training.

October 2007 - The Athens-Clarke County Local Redevelopment Committee approves a UGA proposal to establish a health sciences center on the Navy school site.

January 2008 - A consultant recommends establishing a medical campus in Athens to train new physicians for the state.

February 2008 - UGA Real Estate Foundation buys the old O'Malley's building on the North Oconee River near Oconee Street to become the interim home for the new medical campus.

October 2008 - Dr. Barbara Schuster, a medical educator from Ohio, named dean of the campus, which is designated the MCG/UGA Medical Partnership.

August 2010 - First 40 medical students scheduled to begin studies on the Athens campus.

2011 - UGA slated to take over the Navy School campus.

2012 - The MCG/UGA Medical Partnership expected to move to the Normaltown campus.

2014 - First students due to graduate and begin residencies.

2017 - First students will begin practicing medicine.

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disssman
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disssman 09/30/09 - 08:41 am
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Is the figures right? We

Is the figures right? We needed 59 acres for 60 students? I wonder how many Vice Presidents anfd administrators and teaching medical professionals we will need to teach these 60 students? Just a note on the building practices. I would think that a sterile room for cadavers would be enclosed with a ceiling, to cut down on heating and cooling and prevent dust accumulation, and walls that can be sanitized. The natural brick is nice for a living room, but I am not so sure it is the best surface for a labratory. Of course our main focus is esthetics in this case so a warm open labratory plan is perfect, unless we have to turn it into emergency operating facilities for a disaster.

themaninthemirror
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themaninthemirror 09/30/09 - 09:52 am
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I wonder when UGA plans an

I wonder when UGA plans an extension campus for Augusta? It certainly seems that if MCG can have an extension campus in Athens, then we could have an UGA extension in Augusta. I think UGA-Augusta has a nice ring to it?

themaninthemirror
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themaninthemirror 09/30/09 - 09:55 am
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dissman-It is apparent from

dissman-It is apparent from your use of grammar and misspelled words, and punctuation, that you could benefit from a little college education.

PositiveThinker
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PositiveThinker 09/30/09 - 11:14 am
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As the spouse of a medical

As the spouse of a medical student, I am THANKFUL that the Board of Regents decided to expand MCG into Athens. I think that the Athens community will do a better job of embracing the students, providing adequate leadership, and promoting growth of the campus. I am very proud of the University Advancement team in Augusta for raising the funds to build the new Dental School-- and I know that the Cancer Center will be a nice addition as well. But as the ONLY public Medical College in the State of Georgia... we have a lot of room for improvement and the job just isn't getting done now.

CarlA
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CarlA 09/30/09 - 01:24 pm
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Hello Augusta! Wake up!

Hello Augusta! Wake up! It's only a matter of time.

disssman
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disssman 09/30/09 - 08:36 pm
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Maninthemirror, I am sorry

Maninthemirror, I am sorry your job is the lowly punctutation checker. Did toy get a degree for that in UGA? For your information I do have a degree, but it is in a technical field (Computer Science) so unlike you, I really don't worry so much about a misplaced comma, to me the idea of exoression is more important. By the way what do you think about my statements and are they valid concerns for a tax paying citizen? My point for the posting was, when are we going to wake up and say enough is enough? Correcting punctuation will not solve the problem.

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