By Associated Press - Friday, March 27, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences has announced plans to develop a medical school in Joplin.

The Joplin Globe ( ) reports that the project announced Thursday will use a 150,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by Mercy Hospital Joplin. The university plans to enroll 150 students per year in its osteopathic program, with the first class set to begin in 2017.

Mercy Hospital Joplin plans to donate the land and component hospital once it receives approval from the Vatican.

The Joplin Regional Medical School Alliance has pledged $30 million to help develop the new medical school. According to a committee chairman, about half of those funds have been raised and there are plans increase the fundraising campaign to gather the rest of the money.

Paula Baker, president and chief executive officer of Freeman Health System, said the group has pledged a multimillion dollar donation to the new school.

“It’s transformative in terms of medical care for our region,” she said. “It will attract students who will come to medical school; they’ll get to know this area and settle down here. The fact that this will attract new physicians to the area is extremely beneficial for everyone concerned.”

Gary Pulsipher, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin, said the new school will help the city, which has had a difficult time recruiting physicians.

According to the university, this will be the first new medical school location to open in Missouri in 44 years. The announcement was made at the investiture of Dr. Marc B. Hahn as that school’s 14th president.

“The expansion of KCU to an additional location marks a significant moment for our university and an opportunity to help address the rural health care needs for Missouri and the region,” Hahn said in a statement. “As the second leading educator of physicians for Missouri and Kansas, and with nearly 40 percent of our graduates practicing medicine in rural areas, this was a logical decision for us.”

Missouri Southern State University has had ties to Kansas City University, and officials say they support a new satellite campus in Joplin.

“Anything in Joplin and the region has our support, certainly,” he said. “We’ve talked to KCU about some partnering opportunities and some opportunities, maybe, for enrollment preferences for some of our outstanding students.”


Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe,

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