COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Columbus will soon be able to help educate medical professionals.
A decade in the making, city and state leaders are calling this a big deal. In one year you’ll see medical students in town and in two years, you’ll see a completed campus bringing the best of the best to the Chattahoochee Valley.
Ten years ago, Columbus representative Richard Smith ventured to Macon with an idea. Thursday, that idea took its first physical step toward completion. Mercer University is building a four-year medical campus in the Fountain City.
“This is going to be an incredible opportunity not only for this community, but also especially rural healthcare in general, Southwest Georgia where we have that need for more physicians and that workforce,” Governor Brian Kemp said.
As rural hospitals all across the southeast are closing, the need to educate more doctors and medical professionals is urgent.
“Rural Georgia needs healthcare. We have several counties in this state that have no doctors, I mean zero doctors. Some have no pharmacies,” Smith said.
“I don’t think someone’s care should be determined by their zip code,” medical student Taylor Hollingsworth said.
The campus will bring not only new healthcare professionals to the Chattahoochee Valley, but an economic bonus as well with students and faculty living and working in Uptown Columbus.
Mayor Skip Henderson said it’s only appropriate to be breaking ground on this new campus in the middle of a global pandemic.
“The pandemic is highlighting some of the major issues we’re having with providing healthcare to people throughout Georgia. Mercer School of Medicine, that is their focus, making sure people in rural Georgia have access to healthcare,” Henderson said.
The construction is starting any day now with an expected completion late 2021 or early 2022, but you can expect to see students there as soon as next August.