The proposed medical school is nearing completion; developers are looking for more time on related projects

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November 5 – By the end of the year, construction of the Kansas Health Science Center – Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine project will likely be completed.

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The future medical school, which is on the verge of anchoring the downtown education complex of pharmacist-turned-developer Sudha Tokala, still has an accreditation hurdle to clear before student recruitment can begin.

School officials say they hope pre-accreditation will be granted in the coming months so that they can accommodate their first class of students in August 2022. Final accreditation would only come after graduates. of the first class.

Tokala’s vision for the educational complex also includes the National Institute for Culinary and Hospitality Education, which will house WSU Tech’s new culinary arts program, as well as a 119-apartment student accommodation center and an AC Marriott hotel in 119 rooms.

Tokala’s development company Douglas Market Development LLC plans to ask Wichita City Council for a project extension on student housing from August 2022 to December 2023 and on the hotel from March to December 2022 on Tuesday, citing delays related to the pandemic. .

The developers will also ask the council to issue $ 10 million in industrial revenue bonds and a 100% five-year property tax rebate on the culinary school building, which opened in August.

The city has already invested millions of dollars in the Tokala project in the form of IRBs, tax breaks and other incentives, as well as asbestos removal and facade improvement costs.

The city has also spent $ 1.3 million in tax increase funding that spends future property taxes on the redevelopment of Chester I. Lewis Pocket Park, which is being transformed into an entrance plaza. for the private medical school.

Failure to meet project deadlines would normally trigger clawbacks from public funds, but Deputy City Manager Scot Rigby said on Friday the developer should not be punished for COVID-related construction delays. He expressed his confidence that the developers will carry out the projects.

“The contractor says he can only find a limited number of people to do so much work, and so instead of doing all the buildings at the same time, they have to prioritize,” Rigby said.

“There is no delay on the medical school, which is the central project.”

The school will occupy 116,000 square feet of space in the former five-story Finney State office building.

One of the highlights of the facility is a virtual anatomy lab, where students can use holographic technology to identify and dissect body parts.

Tiffany Masson, president of the Kansas Health Science Center, said the virtual anatomy lab will offer more flexibility than a traditional cadaver lab, where donated bodies last only a year.

The college will offer a four-year program where students will spend their second two years in clinical placements honing various specialties before choosing the one that works best for them.

A 2019 study published by the Association of American Medical Colleges found that the United States will face a shortage of nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032.

“There is a dire shortage of physicians, especially in our underserved and rural communities, and we need to be able to train physicians determined to return to those communities and give back,” Masson said.

“One way we want to be able to do that is really to have these first clinical immersion experiences for our students to go to these underserved communities and see what patient care is like and how they can contribute when they come in. in clinical rotations, potentially in a residency program in these spaces. ”

Masson said the college’s first class will have 85 students, which will eventually double to 170 classes.

This story was originally posted on November 5, 2021 at 5:02 p.m.

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