COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The Mercer University School of Medicine hosted the ribbon-cutting ceremony for their new riverfront campus in downtown Columbus on Dec. 14, 2021. The new campus is located on First Avenue and will serve as a hub for over 200 medical school students.

Dr. Jean Sumner, the Dean of Medicine for the Mercer University School of Medicine was part of Mercer University’s School of Medicine first graduating class in 1986 and has served as Dean for six years.

“Our goal is to impact the state of Georgia with better healthcare,” Sumner said. “I think that the pandemic pointed out that we’re desperately in need of physicians who care for people. Columbus has a great medical community and they have welcomed us with open arms to help train young physicians to stay in this area.”

The project, in the works for more than a decade, took about 13 months to complete and cost $38.5 million. The new campus will serve as Mercer University’s third medical campus. There is one on the main campus in Macon and another in Savannah.

Students can begin using the facility next month when they begin the spring semester.

Sumner said West Georgia is an area of desperate need with some of the worst health statuses in the nation. Mercer University hopes to address the current health status and create a healthy state for everyone with the physicians they will train.

Those doctors that graduate from the Columbus campus will practice in Georgia.

Dr. Maurice Solis, the Senior Associate Dean for the Mercer University School of Medicine- Columbus Campus said he did his general surgery residency at Mercer University and he is excited to be a part of the grand opening for the new facility.

“They’ve got beautiful tutorial rooms, an unbelievable auditorium, they’ve got a wellness game room, they’ve got the riverwalk right outside, they’ve got state-of-the-art research labs upstairs so the educational opportunities for the students here will be fantastic,” Solis said.

The Mercer University School of Medicine only accepts Georgia residents into the residency program and tries to target students from rural zip codes, according to Dr. Solis. He also said that Mercer University’s goal will be to educate physicians to meet the healthcare needs of rural, underserved Georgia.