Yesterday Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center along with the Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville, St. Mary’s Medical Center and Deaconess Health System in Evansville and the Owensboro Medical Health System announced a two-phase feasibility study commissioned from consulting firm Tripp Umbach of Pittsburgh in June 2012. 

The initiative will bring physician training to Jasper.

About 50 community leaders, along with hospital staff, educators, local lawmakers and business executives, met during the noon hour Tuesday to hear the results of the first stage of the study.

Paul Umbach of Tripp Umbach, and Steven Becker of the IU School of Medicine in Evansville, explained that the economic study showed that the IU Evansville campus and the University of Southern Indiana should collaborate to develop a $35 million facility in downtown Evansville that would house classrooms and laboratories for many medical disciplines in the same place. Umbach says the hospitals in southern Indiana could then create a consortium to bring graduate medical education to the region. Deaconess Family Medicine currently offers the only residency training in the area.

Memorial Hospital officials say that the hospital began allowing third- and fourth-year medical students from the Evansville campus to perform their clinical rotations there last April, but creating a residency program in family medicine will expand upon that. A resident has completed a four-year medical degree and must practice medicine under the supervision of fully licensed doctors for a set period of time.

They say accepting residents will help the hospital avoid the physician shortage that hospitals throughout the country are facing.

They say the hospital’s staff and reputation will benefit from being involved in graduate education.

Community leaders were invited to learn about the study so that the project partners could promote the plan and talk about economic impact.

Umbach says that drawing more licensed doctors to the area will reduce the number of emergency room visits and the cost of medical care to all residents.

The objectives of the second phase of the study are to develop the residency programs, plan for the construction of the new medical education building in Evansville and draft business plans. The study should be completed by this coming fall and the residency consortium could be fully implemented within the next couple of years.