Leaders from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU) joined partners and friends from the Joplin community to break ground on its second College of Osteopathic Medicine in Joplin, Missouri. The groundbreaking took place during a ceremony at Mercy Hospital Joplin’s former location, which was donated to serve as the campus of the new medical school.
KCU-Joplin, the first new medical school in Missouri in nearly 50 years, represents the realization of a shared vision for the region, and has been made possible through collaboration among KCU, Mercy Hospital Joplin, Freeman Health System, the City of Joplin and philanthropic leadership from the surrounding community.
“Here today, on the property that once included the St. John’s Hospital, we break ground on a new medical school and the birth of a new opportunity, said Marc Hahn, DO, President and CEO of KCU. “KCU is proud to be a part of this community, which is emerging brighter and more resilient than ever. It is indeed, like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, Dr. Hahn said.”
The KCU-Joplin campus will be located on the site of Mercy’s former hospital, which was constructed in 2012 to serve as a temporary facility following the destruction of St. John’s Hospital during the devastating Joplin tornado in 2011.
The regional community had been working to bring a medical school to the area as part of an effort to alleviate a shortage of physicians in the region. Community leaders say the tornado brought people together, cooperating in a way that hadn’t been experienced before.
“If you didn’t appreciate the need for doctors before the tornado, you certainly could appreciate it on that day,” said Rudy Farber, Fundraising Chairman of the Joplin Regional Medical School Alliance.
KCU made the commitment to creating the 600-student campus contingent on the region raising $30 million, or about half of the total cost of obtaining accreditation of the new school, renovating and equipping the former 150,000 square-foot Mercy facility just vacated, and having operational funds for the first few years while the student base grows.
MSSU Partnership with KCU
In December, Missouri Southern State University signed the Advanced Medical Acceptance Program with KCU. This allows up to 25 MSSU students to be admitted to KCU’s new school upon successful completion of Southern’s pre-med requirements.
“This unique partnership with Missouri Southern State University guarantees students acceptance into the medical school paving a bright future for primary care in Joplin and the region,” said Hahn at the announcement.
“It’s a differentiator for us, it sets us part from other schools that don’t have a connection like this,” said MSSU President Dr. Alan Marble. “It also raises the bar for everyone. It elevates the standards and the rigor that will be happening in our classrooms.”
As the 12th-largest medical school in the U.S., KCU has distinguished itself as a national leader in the education and training of osteopathic physicians. The University’s expansion into Southwest Missouri will be transformative for the region through the ability to locally train the next generation of physicians to help improve access to high-quality medical care for the underserved surrounding four states.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), the primary care physician shortage in this country is projected to exceed 50,000 by 2025, greater than in any other specialties. The total physician shortage across all specialties is projected to reach more than 100,000.
Missouri is ranked 36th in America’s Health Rankings 2015 report, a comprehensive analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis, published by United Health Foundation. Significant indicators in the report identify the need for more primary care and specialty physicians for our state and region. These indicators include high patient-to-physician ratios, high rates of premature births and high rates of preventable hospitalizations.