ST. LOUIS, March 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Ponce Health Sciences University has announced plans to invest more than $80 million in a new campus in north St. Louis and to expand education programs by offering a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) program.
Designed to create opportunities for more students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to access medical education and build careers in health care, PHSU-St. Louis will support up to 1,200 students and create up to 120 staff and faculty positions at the new campus, upon opening planned for fall 2021. Construction is set to begin in late fall 2020 or early winter 2021, with PHSU and University Ventures, which owns and operates the school, providing the working capital for the new campus.
"We are honored to establish this program in St. Louis, a world-class center for medical education and health care," said Dr. David Lenihan, president of PHSU. "We are also proud to build our new campus in north St. Louis and bring significant economic benefits to the community. We will be positioned to provide opportunities for students across the community and beyond to pursue careers in medicine."
The campus expansion arrives as north Saint Louis experiences several developments in the area, including construction of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) West facility.
In a statement, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay addressed the significance of this project to the city's north side: "As you well know, north St. Louis suffers from significant health care disparities in access to both emergency and primary care, high rates of chronic illnesses and lower life expectancies than other parts of our region. This is an important project that will increase access to quality health care in underserved neighborhoods. This is a worthy goal for which I will continue to advocate."
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt also shared the following statement in support of the announcement: "The growing shortage of doctors in Missouri and across the United States poses a significant challenge, particularly in underserved urban and rural areas. PHSU-St. Louis's new M.D. program will help more students get the training they need to meet health care workforce demands and improve access to quality care. Today's announcement is great news for economic development in the region and will further strengthen Missouri's role as a national leader in medical education."
Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe commented, "As many people know, I was born and raised in north St. Louis. The investment of a medical school in the area of the city where I grew up will have a tremendous impact on the rebuilding efforts currently underway. The positive effect of this project will also not only be felt there, but across the state, by having a new medical school that is dedicated to graduating doctors that are likely to practice in underserved areas. Dr. Lenihan's innovation in identifying and educating students will bring positive recognition to the St. Louis region and all of Missouri."
Alderwoman Tammika Hubbard, representing the city's 5th ward, where the new PHSU-St. Louis campus will be built, said during an event for the new campus: "We have so many people in our community that would love to serve in a capacity in the health care field but just simply can't get through school, so it's very important that you all are here today and supporting my constituents in the 5th ward and constituents throughout the city of St. Louis."
PHSU-St. Louis, established in 2018, currently offers accredited health science programs at its facility in the historic Globe Building, including a Master of Science in Medical Sciences (MSMS) and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (PsyD).
Designed to improve academic credentials to professional schools, PHSU's MSMS program offers a one-year, multidisciplinary core curriculum focused on basic medical science. First introduced at PHSU's Puerto Rico campus, the MSMS program has helped students achieve a board passage rate of 100% on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1, compared to a 95% passage rate for the rest of the nation. Graduates have also earned residencies at some of the nation's most prestigious institutions, including Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic.
Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced issued the following statement: "I would like to congratulate the Ponce Health Sciences University on the historic announcement of its medical school campus expansion from Ponce, Puerto Rico, into St. Louis, Missouri. Puerto Rico produces top-rated medical practitioners and the Ponce Health Sciences University is part of such success."
PHSU-St. Louis has also established a new partnership with Saint Louis University School of Medicine in which SLU will refer students interested in pursuing medical degrees to PHSU's MSMS graduate program. In turn, SLU will grant interviews to MSMS graduates for admissions consideration to the SLU's School of Medicine.
"We are excited Ponce Health Sciences University is coming to town and see it as a win for the region and for our School of Medicine," said Dr. Daniel Blash, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer at Saint Louis University School of Medicine "We look forward to continuing to explore the potential for partnership between our schools that exists."
Herb B. Kuhn, president and CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association noted, "Opportunities in the health care workforce are significant, including for physicians. The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration estimates that 13,800 primary care physicians are needed to meet demand in all currently designated shortage areas. Several Missouri counties have no primary care physicians. The Missouri Hospital Association applauds PHSU's efforts to address the shortages that exist today and that are expected in the long-term."
About Ponce Health Sciences University
Ponce Health Sciences University (PHSU), a fully-accredited university, is dedicated to providing the highest quality graduate education programs available in medicine, clinical psychology, biomedical sciences and public health in order to prepare world-class, culturally competent health professionals to better serve a growing population of diverse patients across the United States. Located in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and St. Louis, Missouri, PHSU is recognized around the world for its educational service and research achievements.