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Liberty, Centra celebrate affiliation agreement for medical students

April 16, 2013 : By Mitzi Bible/Liberty University News Service

From left, Chancellor and President Jerry Falwell, Jr.; Dr. Ronnie B. Martin, dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine; and Michael Bryant, president and CEO of Centra

Leaders of Lynchburg’s two largest employers celebrated an agreement on Monday that will have a direct impact on the health and well-being of their community.

Liberty University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM), which is seeking accreditation and is scheduled to open in Fall 2014, signed a five-year affiliation agreement last month that would secure clinical rotations at Centra facilities for third- and fourth-year students. Liberty hosted a special event to celebrate this affiliation at the Hancock Welcome Center, with school administrators and Centra’s executive team in attendance.

Centra is a regional nonprofit healthcare system based in Lynchburg and serving more than 300,000 residents in 38 locations throughout Central and Southside Virginia.

“What a great day in the history of healthcare in Central Virginia,” said Michael Bryant, president and CEO of Centra. “We are proud that Lynchburg’s two largest institutions are collaborating to enhance the welfare of our friends, neighbors, and loved ones. Hopefully, this won’t be a singular event or the last, that there are going to be many more opportunities for our missions to come together and we will collaborate in many more ways in the future, where both of us can leverage what God has given us so we can benefit Central Virginia and beyond.”

Liberty Chancellor and President Jerry Falwell, Jr. said the new medical school “would not be nearly as successful without the help of Centra, without the commitment on Centra’s part to take these students.”

“Thank you and we look forward to a long and beneficial relationship,” he said. “We are looking for ways now we can return the favor.”

The agreement allows for about 80 students in Centra facilities each academic year, with Centra providing equipment, supplies, and support necessary for training, as well as assisting in selection of students and development of curriculum.

Dr. Ronnie B. Martin, dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, said the joint venture is about improving the quality of life for the community.

“The development of this visionary partnership between LUCOM and Centra is really not about a new building, it’s not about a new healthcare system, it’s not about an affiliation agreement or a contract. … It really all boils down to being about people. It’s about the patients that we’ll take care of, and the students and the healthcare professionals that will be impacted by what we’re doing here today. It’s really about improving the lives of people, access to healthcare, quality healthcare, preventative health care.”

Construction continues on the 138,000-square-foot, four-story Center for Medical and Health Sciences on Liberty Mountain, overlooking main campus, that will house LUCOM and several departments in Liberty’s School of Health Sciences. The $40 million facility will include a comprehensive medical clinic, extensive resource center and library, research center with multiple labs, and state-of-the-art simulation and standardized patient education facility.

Martin noted that Monday’s celebration comes during National Osteopathic Medicine Week, a time to recognize the contributions made by more than 100,000 osteopathic physicians, residents, and students to our society today.

There are currently 29 osteopathic colleges, with 37 campuses in 28 states. Liberty will become the 30th, and the second in the state. The osteopathic medical profession, historically serving in rural and medically underserved settings, places a more prominent emphasis on a holistic, preventative health, patient-centered approach.

“With osteopathic physicians practicing in every discipline of medicine, they are major contributors to the health and welfare of the patients in the U.S. and across the globe,” Martin said. “For more than 130 years, osteopathic physicians have built a tradition of bringing health care to where it is needed most.”

He said Liberty is committed to excellence in service to “our fellow man and our country” in the same way it is committed to “the service and glory of God.”

“The development of LUCOM is another way that LU is living that commitment,” Martin said. “LUCOM will improve the lives of countless students, professionals, and patients through its efforts to provide medical education, research, and service, with an expressed goal of developing great physicians, individuals who become more than doctors and, rather, emulate Jesus as healers of men. In doing so, it will not only advance Liberty’s mission of Training Champions for Christ, but will advance our mission of demonstrating the love and service expected of us as Christians.”

Liberty University administrators and staff members join Centra executives and staff during a celebration of an affiliation agreeement signed by the two institutions to provide training for third- and fourth-year medical students.