State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

University Park Regional Medical Campus receives $2.5 million state grant

by and on October 20, 2013 2:05 PM

In a continuing effort to improve the quality of healthcare in Centre County and the surrounding region, Penn State's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and the University Park Regional Campus of the Penn State College of Medicine recently accepted a $2.5 million grant from State Senator Jake Corman at the Hershey Medical Group offices on Benner Pike.

The money will be used to attract more medical students to pursue careers in primary care medicine in this region.

It will also be used to improve access to high quality care for the state's most vulnerable and underserved populations.

Senator Corman believes the expanding relationship between Penn State, the Hershey Medical Center and Mount Nittany Medical Center will not only improve the quality of life in the region, but also serve as a major catalyst for economic development.

"This is an exciting announcement," Corman states, referring to the grant. "Hershey Medical is making a strong commitment to Centre County. "When companies look to locate here, they look at things like schools and health care. Health care is a big part of what they consider. So this will have an impact on economic development."

Steve Brown, President and CEO of the Mount Nittany Medical Center, has been seeking cooperative efforts such as the current Penn State-Hershey Medical-Mount Nittany Medical Center partnership since he arrived in Centre County. "Everybody has realized that it is the right thing to do," Brown says. "I think what we are doing here will help people navigate the complexities of the national healthcare system. We want to be a resource for information to help people here to understand what the new law will mean to them and their employer."

Harold Paz, MD, is the CEO and senior vice president for health affairs at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Dean, Penn State College of Medicine. "When I arrived here seven years ago, I knew we had to make sure that we have a regional campus of the College of Medicine." He says Centre County is the perfect place to locate such a facility due to its proximity to Penn State's main campus.

"We think it is important to have a significant presence for the School of Medicine in order to train the next generation of doctors," explains Paz. "There are dramatic health care needs in this area. And we believe that an academic health center has a responsibility to the community. People here should not have to travel great distances in order to receive high quality health care services."

The question that arose in Hershey and University Park was, "Why not have many of the programs offered in Hershey available here in Centre County?"

Paz noted that seven years ago, Penn State Hershey had eight doctors located in this region. That number has reached 70-plus clinicians working at five clinic sites. "And we think there is even more we can do. We are not growing in isolation. It is important to partner with other institutions. We currently have 17 key affiliates in the state."

Paz points to the Shaner Cancer Center at Mount Nittany Medical Center as an example of a successful partnership. Penn State Hershey oncologists, with access to cutting edge clinical trials, are delivering services locally in Centre County.

"And the winners are the people who live in this community," Paz says. "I have a passion about the idea that people should have access to high quality health care in this community, and this grant will allow us to support that idea. Ever since its founding 50 years ago, Penn State College of Medicine has been a leader in developing innovative approaches to medical education while preparing physicians who will care for the people of our Commonwealth. We are grateful to Senator Corman for his leadership in securing this grant, which will sustain our commitment to innovation and to improving access to health care for Pennsylvanians."

The $2.5 million state grant will help the University Park Regional Campus achieve the following goals:

  • Identify the rural and primary care health needs of central Pennsylvania and create new and unique methods of healthcare delivery to improve access to patient-centered, high quality, cost effective care.
  • Maintain and in-state tuition rate that will be the most affordable of Pennsylvania's medical schools and competitive nationally.
  • Design an innovative, team-based, multi-disciplinary education curriculum to train medical students and family and community medicine residents to best address the primary and rural health acre needs of Pennsylvania.
  • Provide unique learning opportunities for students, such as dual degree programs and a longitudinal integrated curriculum.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Harry is a correspondent for the Gazette.
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