USC President Harris Pastides’ plea for more public funding to expand the medical school’s facilities gave me an idea: Use a business model we know works.
The School of Medicine has demonstrated an effective expansion model with its satellite Greenville Medical School. It could replicate the model and send a third of its medical students to Francis Marion in partnership with the McLeod Health System.
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Francis Marion has large and well-equipped buildings housing its growing nursing school, and McLeod is rumored to have about $1 billion in reserves to invest in expanding its provider network across the Pee Dee and into coastal counties. McLeod needs to grow its own supply of physicians and nurses just as Greenville Health System has.
With poor health status and a growing retiree population, the Pee Dee and coast have ample need for more primary-care physicians and such specialties as general and orthopedic surgeons and psychiatrists, and physicians tend to remain where they are trained.
So why not “franchise” USC’s valuable asset — the medical school — to raise the capital it needs to replace the old, inadequate facilities at the VA and anchor a new job-generating health and biological science complex at the Bull Street development? This can get USC off the hook for more state bonds and appease local taxpayers who aren’t excited about paying for another public building that won’t grow the tax base.
I’m sure Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman will like this idea, given his innovative ideas for funding economic development activities (think Boeing). It just seems such a natural fit. May I also suggest a name? How about the Darla Moore School of Medicine?
When you can’t import the resources needed, grow your own. Think about the links to the pharmaceutical industry in Florence. It’s a natural economic cluster, as the Commerce Department likes to say.
This makes economic sense to Columbia, the Midlands and the Pee Dee and coast. We would have high-value health assets in every quadrant of South Carolina.