MOULTRIE — Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine officials promised the opening of PCOM’s South Georgia campus marks the beginning of changes in rural health care.
“(We will have) a significant impact on the burden of illness in this region,” PCOM President Jay S. Feldstein said in remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday on Tallokas Road.
Gov. Brian Kemp, the keynote speaker for the event, also saw the potential in having a medical college in rural South Georgia.
“Health care is too expensive in today’s world,” Kemp said. “It’s too hard to get to.”
The school, which welcomed its first class of students for orientation this week, will change that, Kemp said, by training the medical professionals who will serve the region, improving access to the vital service.
Rural needs, including health care, have been a major issue in recent legislative sessions and in Kemp’s 2018 campaign for governor. He said the Legislature’s most recent session passed more than 20 bills related to health care.
“We’re going to continue to work hard on that,” he said.
Kemp and several other speakers described cooperation and collaboration among a multitude of stakeholders — hospitals, other health-care agencies, colleges, the state government, local governments and others — to make the dream of a South Georgia medical college a reality.
John P. Kearney, chairman of the PCOM board of trustees, spoke in glowing terms about the future of the region’s health care.
“Together we shall set a new course for health care in rural Georgia,” he said.
Kearney looked forward to expansions of the school even as officials prepared to officially open it. He said the board envisions biomedical and psychological programs coming to PCOM South Georgia.
The goal with the South Georgia campus is the same as with the PCOM campus in Suwannee, he said: to make the school a hub for health care in its region.