Major hurdle cleared for new LSU Medical School facility in Shreveport

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A major hurdle has been cleared in efforts to bring a new LSU medical education building to Shreveport. The LSU Board of Supervisors gave unanimous approval to the $56 million project. Next step: State legislative approval.

And supporters say it can’t come soon enough. The doctor shortage is only expected to get worse with aging baby boomers and a large number of doctors expected to retire in the next decade.

Despite this doctor shortage, there’s only a limited number of spots at the LSU Health medical school in Shreveport.

“This is a really big deal because if people are not aware there is a very serious shortage of physicians, not only in the state of Louisiana but nationally,” explained Lisa Babin.

Babin is the LSU Health Public Affairs Executive Director. She told us the medical school has been expanding.

“We, as a campus, can only increase our class size one more time. We’re currently at 136 medical students. And we’ve made the renovations neccesary to go to 150. But we cannot increase any further.”

Their solution: The $56 million Center for Medical Education and Wellness, to be funded by equal parts public and private dollars.

The project was unanimously approved by the LSU Board of Supervisors on this Friday, December 7 and would increase class size to a total of 200.

The footprint of the new facility would be right where the Clinic Research Building and its parking lot are located, just southeast of the LSU Health complex.

Babin said their private fundraising effort for $28 million will begin early next year.

Now, if the state legislature gives its thumbs up at its next regular legislative session on Monday, April 8, Babin predicted we could actually see construction get underway by sometime in 2019."

Dr. Timothy Magner, president of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce described the new center as a win-win proposition.

“It’s terrific for the community, for the health science center and for the opportunity for medical education in our region.”

And when you consider 70 percent of doctors in northwest Louisiana were educated either at the medical school or did they residency in Shreveport, The project takes on added significance.

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