January 14, 2015
An $800,000 Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund grant has been awarded to the Integrative Centers for Science and Medicine (ICSM) and the College of Henricopolis School of Medicine (CHSM) to help them proceed in developing a medical school in Martinsville, officials announced Tuesday.
Martinsville City Council made the announcement of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission grant before its meeting Tuesday night. The city partnered with ICSM, a nonprofit organization, and CHSM on the grant application.
“It’s a turning point,” said Dr. Noel Boaz, president of CHSM. “We’re very pleased. We’re happy the city of Martinsville partnered with us. It was an important part — to have the city’s support was crucial in gaining the award. We are appreciative of the city and the support from them.”
“This puts us well over $1 million” for the medical school’s Shackelford fundraising campaign, according to Boaz and a city news release. The $1 million goal was a symbolic one, Boaz said. “It allows us to (officially) name the building (at 62 Fayette St.) the Shackelford Building.”
The funds will allow environmental hazard removal and interior demolition to begin on the Shackelford Building, donated by Dr. Mervyn and Virginia King of Martinsville. The award also will enable the medical school to lease three floors of the Jefferson Plaza building uptown, which formerly was occupied by the New College Institute, for faculty, instructional and administrative offices before building renovations are completed, the release said.
Part of the $800,000 will be used to purchase equipment for ICSM’s medical center, Boaz said.
The medical school will be able to hire 111 employees as $3 million is invested during the next three years, according to Boaz and the release. Plans are to fill seven positions immediately, Boaz said without elaborating.
Doctors will be among employees that the medical school hires, officials indicated.
Councilwoman Sharon Brooks Hodge said she understands 64 positions will involve academics and the others will be administrative jobs.
The prospect of the school being able to recruit professionals from other areas of the nation to Martinsville is “really exciting,” Hodge said.
Martinsville Mayor Danny Turner praised the news.
“On behalf of the city of Martinsville, we are extremely pleased that Integrative Centers for Science and Medicine & College of Henricopolis School of Medicine are moving forward with the medical school project and in particular, staying in our uptown area. Under Dr. Boaz’s leadership, this project is gaining momentum and ultimately will have a significant impact to both Martinsville and the surrounding community,” he said.
The city recently donated property needed for the expansion of the Shackelford Building at the corner of Fayette and Moss streets. In addition to the tobacco fund grant, the project qualifies for local Enterprise Zone assistance offered by the city of Martinsville, said the release.
Boaz said the planned medical school is on track to open in the fall of 2016, pending approval of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), which accredits medical education programs leading to the medical doctor degree in the United States and Canada, according to its website.
“This award (of $800,000) will help a lot” toward that, Boaz said.
When LCME’s board next meets in June, Boaz believes CHSM will advance to a higher step in the accreditation process.
Then LCME would send a team to Martinsville to look at such things as land, building plans, how close the medical school is to being ready; talk with the president, dean, faculty and board members; and look at infrastructure, such as where students will stay and accommodations for exercise, Boaz said.
If that team comes to Martinsville by August or September of this year, it’s possible the team would have time to write its report and submit it in time for the October LCME board meeting, Boaz said. More likely, that would happen at the February 2016 LCME board meeting, at which time Boaz hopes accreditation would be approved.
Then CHSM would be able to put up a website, advertise and recruit for a fall 2016 opening, Boaz said.
“I think it all looks pretty good, pretty positive,” he said.
Students at the medical school will do their clinical studies at Memorial Hospital in Martinsville, Councilman Mark Stroud noted.
When students graduate in the future, Stroud said, “we’ll have a steady flow of general practitioners” who hopefully will stay in the area to set up medical practices.
Boaz said last year that the Martinsville-Henry County area has a century-old tradition of excellence in medicine “as testified by the revered homegrown but Baltimore-trained physicians, Dr. Jesse Shackelford and Dr. John Shackelford.”
He added that the Shackelford Building, which will be named after the doctors, is just across the street from the location of St. Mary’s Hospital, founded by Dr. Dana Baldwin, which treated generations of African-American patients in the era of segregation and where both Drs. Shackelford were consulting physicians.
Martinsville’s Shackelford Hospital, founded in 1921, became a leading center in Virginia of the new “scientific medicine,” and from it sprang the statewide Virginia Hospital Association, according to an ICSM document.
Boaz said on Tuesday, “Excellent medicine existed in Martinsville a century ago, and we’re using these doctors as role models for the kind of doctors we want to produce” — ones adept at primary care.
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