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Planning for regional academic health science and research campus moves forward


EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Over 30 steering committee members, including community leaders in education, health care and business, gathered on the University of Southern Indiana campus this week for an update on developing a regional academic health science and research campus.

The meeting was a follow-up to the April announcement that the General Assembly had awarded Indiana University $2 million in early planning funds for the expansion of IU School of Medicine-Evansville as an anchor institution of a collaborative academic health science and research campus.

Thomas Morrison, senior vice president of capital planning and facilities for Indiana University, addressed the steering committee. He commended the steering committee members, sub-committee members, and the delegation of Southern Indiana legislators for advancing the community project.

Four academic institutions are working closely to develop a final business plan for the proposed inter-professional health education and research campus in Southwest Indiana: Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville, Ivy Tech-Southwest, University of Evansville and University of Southern Indiana.

An important aspect of the long-term success of the campus is to ensure that health care professionals are engaged in the planning process. Outreach to physicians and others in the health care community is underway through committee work and focus group sessions.

Expanded physician training sites are also being evaluated. In addition to developing a business plan for co-located academic and research facilities, four hospitals in the region are working on a parallel process to evaluate adding new residency programs. The community has 18 residency positions at Deaconess Hospital and 7 positions at Methodist Hospital in Henderson; however, the region will require additional residency programs to meet future physician workforce needs.

Hospitals involved in the Graduate Medical Education expansion feasibility process are Deaconess Health System, St. Mary’s Health System, Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper and Owensboro Health. Expanded residency programs associated with the four-year medical school campus will lead to significantly more physician graduates who remain in Southwest Indiana and the Tri-State Region to practice medicine.

Individual academic institutions are submitting formal letters of intent to finalize specific programs that will be developed or transferred to the new campus, as well as confirming student enrollment estimates for each institution.

As the planning team implements the formal IU advertisement and selection protocol, Morrison said IU staff will include the Site Development and Funding Committee during the review of the proposals that will be submitted later this year. In an earlier phase study, consultants identified three primary areas in the community for locating the campus: the USI campus, downtown Evansville and the corridor near I-164 and the Lloyd Expressway. A recommendation on the site location is expected by December of 2013.

Along with the other academic partners, Ivy Tech Community College is planning to locate new and existing programs on the proposed campus. Ivy Tech Southwest Chancellor, Dan Schenk, told the steering committee, “The academic health science and research campus will initiate strong private and public relationships that will create a dramatic return on state investment over the next 50 years.”