July 23, 2015

New School Addresses the Need for Primary Care Physicians in Northeast Ohio and Beyond

New medical education model will further value-based care

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Within the next decade, experts predict a national shortage of more than 45,000 primary care physicians. The 20 percent of Americans living in rural or inner-city Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) will be hit the hardest. Northeast Ohio – which includes Cuyahoga, Lorain, Geauga, Summit, Medina, Portage, and Lake counties – has the largest number of HPSAs in Ohio.

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As part of a longstanding relationship between Ohio University and Cleveland Clinic, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) has opened a new regional extension on Cleveland Clinic’s South Pointe Hospital campus to address the need for more primary care physicians in Northeast Ohio and beyond.

First year medical student, Stephanie Saridakis [left], laughs with Isaac Kirstein, D.O., Dean of the Cleveland campus, during the orientation for the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine Cleveland campus located at the Cleveland Clinic South Pointe Hospital Pointe facility in Warrensville Heights, Ohio on Wednesday, July 8, 2015.

First year medical student, Stephanie Saridakis [left], laughs with Isaac Kirstein, D.O., Dean of the Cleveland campus, during the orientation for the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine Cleveland campus located at the Cleveland Clinic South Pointe Hospital Pointe facility in Warrensville Heights, Ohio on Wednesday, July 8, 2015.

A mutually beneficial partnership

In June 2012, Cleveland Clinic and Heritage College signed an affiliation agreement to develop the college’s campus at Cleveland Clinic’s South Pointe Hospital site.

Isaac J. Kirstein, DO, Dean of the Heritage College, Cleveland, says the partnership allows Cleveland Clinic to take advantage of the Heritage College’s history of training physicians who stay in Ohio to practice. Approximately 50 percent of Heritage College alumni are trained to be primary care physicians, and nearly 60 percent practice in Ohio.

With a newfound concentration of medical students training and practicing in Cleveland, the additional site is forecasted to increase the number of family medicine, pediatric and internal medicine physicians who remain in northeast Ohio for their careers – particularly in underserved urban and rural areas.

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Campus features and advantages

Kenneth Johnson, DO, Executive Dean of the Heritage College, says the new campus represents an innovative approach to training doctors that emphasizes physician teamwork. It will be connected to the Heritage College’s other two campuses through state-of-the-art telecommunications technology, allowing students, faculty and staff to interact in real time, and share resources and materials.

“The focus, as we’ve expanded, has been to re-dedicate ourselves to primary care,” Dr. Johnson says. “And this new campus is intended to be a model for medical education that addresses the shortage of primary care physicians.”

A collaboration with national influence

“We are changing the way healthcare is going to be taught and the way it’s going to be delivered,” says J. Stephen Jones, MD, president of Cleveland Clinic Regional Hospitals and Family Health Centers. “This partnership fits together perfectly with the Heritage College’s leadership in primary care education and Cleveland Clinic’s reputation in specialty care.”

Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis, PhD, says, “This expansion of our long-standing partnership with Cleveland Clinic is good for Ohio University and Cleveland Clinic, good for the medical students in our Heritage College, and ultimately, good for the citizens of Ohio who will benefit from the compassionate, high-quality healthcare our graduates have been providing for over three decades. This collaboration will help increase access to care, stimulate medical innovation and improve the economic health of communities in northeast Ohio, as well as across Ohio and the nation.”

Shared mission for the future

Robert Juhasz, DO, President of South Pointe Hospital and President of the American Osteopathic Association, calls the new campus a welcome addition to the local healthcare landscape.

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“The energy that’s coming from the development and opening of the medical campus has really combined with the mission here at South Pointe Hospital to improve care for the community that we serve. We look forward to working together to produce physicians needed for the future.”

The agreement also represents a significant joint investment of more than $50 million in northeastern Ohio. Ohio University has committed $36 million toward renovating a South Pointe building, plus expenses relating to faculty, staff and operations. Cleveland Clinic has contributed $13.4 million toward capital improvements and renovations, staff and operational support, and medical education. Another $5 million came from a Brentwood Foundation grant to support the new campus.

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