CMED raises $21.3 million for Saginaw branch

The College of Medicine has raised $21.3 million toward its funding goal for CMED East in Saginaw.

Receiving $25,000 from the Mid Area Community Foundation and $20,000 from the Bay Area and Saginaw community foundations, the gifts put CMED at 85.2 percent of its funding goal of $25 million for the added location.

Sharon Mortensen, CEO of the Midland Area Community Foundation, said CMED’s proposed mission of addressing regional physician shortages in the Great Lakes Bay Region and across Michigan, is a dire concern for the people of her community.

“The access to care is an issue to people in this community,” she said. “We really believe this is supporting a real need in our area. It was exciting to support this regional medical school. It’s great to be a part of CMED and what it is going to do in our community.”

Mortensen said the decision to donate to CMED was the result of a needs assessment conducted by her grants committee. She said she is confident CMED’s dedicated student body will be successful in treating nearby, medically underserved communities.

Seventeen of CMED’s inaugural class of 64 students are from the Great Lakes Bay Region. Fifty-eight are from Michigan.

“These individuals are really those that want to stay in our state and serve the underserved populations,” Mortensen said. “We have a real need here. I think it’s wonderful that the focus is to put physicians in these areas.”

As the population in the area continues to age, Mortensen said the need for accessible primary care is becoming increasingly dire.

“We’re seeing a shift,” she said. “We have a large population that is aging into their senior years. They need access to more and more healthcare.”

Eileen Curtis, CEO of the Bay Area Community Foundation, said the donation was made with the expectation that students will continue to live and work in the Bay Area region.

“We know the students will be serving the folks in our community as they are doing their internships,” Curtis said. “We hope some will be living here. What we wanted to do was participate in the expansion of CMED to our area. We want folks that will stay in the area and make their future here.”

Curtis also expected the need for primary care in the Bay Area to increase as residents age, and doctors retire.

“There are physician shortages all over,” she said. “And those folks are getting close to retirement.”

Michigan is expected to have a shortage of 4,000-6,000 physicians by 2020. CMED, the nation’s 137th medical school, was formed with a direct mission to fill the gaps.

“One of the great things about CMED students, is they want to be in the area,” Curtis said. “Our goal is to help support the launch of Saginaw. Our organization is invested in the success of CMED.

“As a community, we want to let folks know this is important to our area. We’re putting money into it so it comes to fruition in our area.”

In a university news release, Saginaw Community Foundation CEO Renee Johnston expressed similar aspirations for CMED. She said CMED is already “partnering well” with Covenant Healthcare and St. Mary’s of Michigan, both located in Saginaw.

“It’s definitely an initiative that’s part of our community,” she said. “And it’s appropriate to show our support.”

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