Ponce Health Sciences University (PHSU) announced plans on March 6 to build an $80 million medical school campus in the heart of M Property Services’ NorthSide Regeneration development in North St. Louis. The school will support up to 1,200 students and create up to 120 staff and faculty positions in the St. Louis area. Construction is set to begin later this year or early 2021.
The new campus will expand PHSU’s current educational programs in St. Louis by offering a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) program and will create more opportunities for students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds to access medical education and build careers in healthcare. PHSU-St. Louis was established in 2018 and currently offers accredited health science programs (a Master of Science in Medical Sciences and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology) at their facility in the historic Globe Building in Downtown St. Louis.
“We need to find ways to encourage more diverse students and more diversity in our medical education to pursue medical and healthcare degrees,” said PHSU President Dr. David Lenihan. “Our unique educational model at Ponce Health Sciences University helps students succeed in their medical studies and build meaningful careers in healthcare with good paying jobs. We see the results on our campus in Ponce, Puerto Rico where we continue to maintain excellent academic quality while providing opportunities to students who would otherwise not have been admitted to medical school. Creating opportunities for these students who may have been overlooked is critical because these students are going to go back into these communities of need and actually provide the care that we so desperately want and require.”
The new medical school campus will be located in North St. Louis near Jefferson and Cass Avenues on the former Pruitt-Igoe site and is one of several projects underway within the NorthSide Regeneration development, which also includes a new $1.75 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency West headquarters currently under construction. The school is tentatively scheduled to open in fall 2021.
Dr. Lenihan said North St. Louis was the ideal location for the new campus because of its diverse pool of talented prospective students, access to highly credentialed educators and a pressing need for medical and psychological health professionals.
“In rural Missouri, we know we have problems getting doctors working in these areas. We know we have problems getting physicians and healthcare workers working in North St. Louis and urban parts of the state. We must take action,” said Dr. Lenihan. “We build the resources where they’re needed.”
M Property Services Chairman and CEO Paul McKee, Jr. has been working diligently with PHSU representatives for years to make healthcare a reality for North St. Louis, as part of his NorthSide Regeneration development.
“When we started working in the NorthSide, we discovered there were several deserts such as no grocery store, no 24/7 healthcare, safety/security was an issue and there was a digital divide. We have built a GreenLeaf Market to solve the food desert and now we have the hospital and medical school pieces underway to provide 24/7 healthcare,” said McKee. “Ponce Health Sciences University is going to be significant to our town.”
U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay said in a statement addressing the significance of this project to North St. Louis, “As you well know, North St. Louis suffers from significant healthcare disparities in access to both emergency and primary care, high rates of chronic illnesses and lower life expectancies than other parts of our region. This is an important project that will increase access to quality healthcare in underserved neighborhoods. This is a worthy goal for which I will continue to advocate.”