MOULTRIE, Ga., Aug. 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Close to 700 people who have a stake in the opening of PCOM South Georgia came to a ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 6, 2019, at the newly constructed 75,000 square foot facility to witness Georgia Governor Brian Kemp lend his support to the first four year medical school to locate in the Southwest Georgia region.
Speaking from "the region that literally feeds, clothes and provides not only for our state, but for our nation and the rest of the world," Governor Kemp said, "I'm proud to say that the state saw how training world class doctors in Moultrie could be a real game changer for our region and we have supported this effort. But it was you all that got the ball started and we're honored to be a part of it."
Included in the audience were dignitaries such as First Lady Marty Kemp, Congressman Austin Scott and multiple members of the Georgia General Assembly. The Thomasville High School JROTC presented colors while Sadie Daugereaux (DO '23), a member of the inaugural class, sang the National Anthem following an invocation by Rev. Cornelius Ponder III.
Professing August 6 to be a "Red Letter Day," President and CEO Jay S. Feldstein, DO '81, said Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) is "now proud to call South Georgia home."
He addressed the 55 medical students who make up the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Class of 2023 and said, "People here in this room invested and partnered to make your education in this phenomenal new educational resource available to you. Everyone in this room is invested in your success."
Dr. Feldstein promised that PCOM will work diligently to be a good corporate and educational citizen of the South Georgia region which means "first and foremost that we accomplish our mission and vision of educating and training the physician workforce needed in this region of the state."
Quoting Nelson Mandela, James Matney, president and CEO of Colquitt Regional Medical Center and Chair of the South Georgia Medical Education and Research Consortium, said, "It always seems impossible until it's done."
He spoke to the medical students, sitting towards the front of the auditorium and bedecked in white coats, who will begin classes on August 12, "If you really set out with a goal, put a lot of work into it and put a lot of time into it, you can do it."
He recalled that "a whole collaborative of people" worked together to present a proposal for a four year medical program in South Georgia to PCOM.
"First, I must admit, they laughed a little bit. And then at closer glance, PCOM realized there was something special about this region," Matney said.
Kemp said, "I know that this facility will be at the forefront of improving the quality of life for hard-working Georgians here in South and Southwest Georgia."
He thanked the leadership of PCOM for their commitment – "their financial commitment and their human capital commitment that they have made, a commitment to our state to continue to make us a great place to do business and equip the next generation of medical professionals."
He added, "What's so exciting about this class and this facility is we have a better opportunity for our local kids to get educated here and to stay here where they were raised and give something back not only to their local community, but to our state.
"Together I know we can continue to work hard every day to expand opportunities in health care for those who need it the most," Kemp said.
"I'm proud to be here today. I'm proud of what you've accomplished and I will be proud to see these fine folks graduate in just a few years and what they will do for our future in our state."
The students are a diverse group with an average age of 25 made up of approximately half women and half men, all under the age of 31. They are graduates of such Georgia colleges as Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Augusta University in Augusta, Berry College in Rome, Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Mercer University in Macon, the University of Georgia in Athens, and Valdosta State University in Valdosta.
PCOM South Georgia Chief Academic Officer Michael Sampson, DO, FAOASM, said, "We chose the brightest and the best of the 3,138 applicants." With a commitment to train, retain and sustain physicians for South Georgia, he said that the medical school is working to build partnerships with the region's medical and educational institutions.
Dr. Sampson, who contributed to the design of the campus along with many faculty and staff members, worked with internationally recognized architectural firm Sasaki Inc. He said, "This facility was built to be student centric" as it is technologically advanced, yet friendly. JCI Contractors of Moultrie served as the general contractor.
Speaking on behalf of the PCOM Board of Trustees, Chairman John Kearney said, "Our goal for our South Georgia campus is the same as for our Suwanee campus – to make it an important healthcare hub in training students to be leaders."
He spoke of the South Georgia region's hospitality. "From our first visit here, your welcome has been extraordinary – from signs on the highway to notes in restaurants and everywhere we stopped when we arrived. The leadership here has been exemplary," he said.
The one hour event concluded with a presentation of a key to the city by Moultrie Mayor William McIntosh and Colquitt County Administrator Charles Cannon IV. McIntosh said, "This key is symbolic of this community, along with the entire region, extending and embracing welcome and best wishes to the administration, faculty, students and staff of PCOM South Georgia.
"We're so excited about the impact that this school will have in advancing health care for countless individuals for many generations to come."
Orchestrated by Tommie Beth Willis, president of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Chamber of Commerce, the actual ribbon cutting was led by Governor Kemp, First Lady Marty Kemp, Dr. Feldstein and Chairman Kearney just 467 days following the groundbreaking ceremony.
"This ribbon cutting is the first step of a long road ahead of us," Kearney said.
And the following day, orientation continued for the 55 medical students who are part of the hope for the future of health care in the South Georgia region.
SOURCE Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine