Roseburg’s medical college is one step closer to being built after the Oregon State Legislature approved $10 million in state lottery bonding for the Southern Oregon Medical Workforce Center.
Oregonians for Rural Health and its coalition partners announced the state bonding, which will help fund construction costs, on Tuesday.
George Fox University will provide the academic and administrative structure of the college. The college will offer advanced degrees in multiple allied and mental health fields.
“Healthcare is vital to our local communities and the region. The demand for healthcare has steadily grown over the years and along with it the need for skilled providers. Southern and rural Oregon face growing allied and mental health workforce shortages that pose serious healthcare access issues,” said Kelly Morgan, CHI Mercy Health CEO and co-chair of the Oregonians for Rural Health. “Building the Southern Oregon Medical Workforce Center will provide a regional pipeline of skilled healthcare providers to better ensure access to services.”
Oregonians for Rural Health was trying to obtain $15 to 20 million in funding from the Legislature.
Representatives from the organization and George Fox identified a property in the area of Northwest Stewart Parkway, Renann Sreet and Northwest Edenbower Boulevard to build the college, which would be close to medical facilities and the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
The Roseburg VA Medical Center provided testimony to the Oregon State Legislature, indicating many of its allied health positions are difficult to fill.
“Local hospitals and the VA have struggled with job vacancies that make it impossible to keep up with demand,” State Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Winston, said. “The college will help provide the healthcare professionals needed to ensure our communities and veterans have access to care. This includes providing accelerated programs to veterans with active military medical service to get degrees and practice in civilian settings and at VA facilities. Investing in healthcare creates good paying jobs, supports local employers, and makes the area a better place to live.”
Heard and Rep. Gary Leif, R-Roseburg, campaigned for the state funding request.
The City of Roseburg agreed to loan up to $10 million to help establish the college when city councilors entered into a memorandum of understanding during a May 14 meeting.
The city would apply for a special public works fund loan or another funding mechanism to finance the $10 million, according to city documents. City funding would be contingent upon state funding and the creation of a long-term building lease with George Fox University.
In April, the city agreed to support the project with at least $400,000 in abated systems development charges.