New medical school could be coming to SWGA

Published: Oct. 31, 2016 at 7:54 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 31, 2016 at 8:42 PM EDT
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Jay Feldstein (Source: WALB)
Jay Feldstein (Source: WALB)
Jim Matney (Source: WALB)
Jim Matney (Source: WALB)

COLQUITT CO., GA (WALB) - An agreement between a south Georgia hospital and a medical school could bring endless opportunities to the area.

On Monday afternoon, Colquitt Regional Medical Center and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine signed an agreement that could establish a location in Southwest Georgia.

Supporters said that this deal could change healthcare, education and the economy in the region.

Many people have dreamed about a four-year medical school in our area for years, now, that dream seems more like reality.

"This is huge. This is really huge," said Chairman of Colquitt Regional Medical Center Richard Bass.

The excitement was overwhelming as representatives from Colquitt Regional and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine spoke of what the agreement means.

"Too long has south of Macon been ignored. So that was the vision. It's let's create some high quality education, high quality healthcare, that can be housed south of Macon," Colquitt Regional CEO and President Jim Matney.

It's a Matney and PCOM CEO and President Jay Feldstein share.

"We are truly committed as an organization to provide healthcare to undeserved communities in both rural and urban areas," explained Feldstein.

The agreement is to develop a feasibility plan for a new location, that would be presented to the accreditation for approval.

Representatives said that a new location would address a growing problem, the physician shortage in our region.

"Most residents practice within 60 miles of where they train," said Assistant Program Director Woody Weeks with the Georgia South Family Medicine Residency program.

Proponents said this plan could encourage our youth to stay in their hometown, get their education and practice in their communities.

And the potential economic impact is just the cherry on top.

"The economic impact is going to be unreal with construction of the facility, new home sales, existing home sales. A lot going on. I think it's going to continue to spur retail and commercial growth that we've seen a lot of lately," explained Chairman of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority Larry Franklin.

And as reiterated by every speaker, this is just the beginning.

"Be excited by this event, because what we're doing here today is special," said Bass.

Feldstein said that they'll hear back from accreditors any time between May and August of next year.

The best case scenario, he said, would be that the first class would start in August of 2018.

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