By Aziza Jackson
CONROE, Ala. — Grand Central Park has announced the addition of Sam Houston State University’s (SHSU) proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine, a major step in fulfilling the master-planned community’s goal of bringing a higher education component to the City of Conroe.
Situated on a 7.3-acre property on I-45 just south of South Loop 336, the college will feature a five-story, 216,000 square foot building. Phase one of the building will be 108,000 square feet with surface parking. A future phase two expansion will add another 108,000 square feet. Surface parking will then be decreased with the addition of a parking garage.
Construction of the building is scheduled to start by the end of 2018 with substantial completion by December 2019.
“An academic setting has always been a part of our long-range plan,” said Shannon League, director of marketing for Grand Central Park. “We’re delighted to serve as the home of Montgomery County’s newest medical school.”
Page, a 500-plus person multidisciplinary architecture and engineering firm with offices in the U.S. and abroad, was awarded the prime architectural and engineering contract in June of 2018 and is working in association with The SLAM Collaborative, a nationally recognized medical school planning and architecture firm.
Page will provide pre-planning and development of project-specific design criteria to support SHSU’s decision-making process to confirm site restrictions and development options. Then, working with the construction manager-at-risk, Vaughn Construction, Page will develop contract documents for construction.
The 107,000-square-foot facility will be constructed less than fifty miles from the SHSU main campus in Hunstville. Instructional spaces intended to support students’ first two years of pre-clinical instruction, research, academic programs, and student life include a teaching theater, a large active learning classroom, case-based learning team rooms, a gross anatomy lab, skills lab, and standardized patient and simulation suites.
In August, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) approved SHSU’s doctorate in osteopathic medicine, bringing the university one step closer to helping millions living in rural and underserved areas of East Texas.
“After approximately four years of researching, analyzing and planning, this endorsement represents a major leap forward in helping to train doctors who will predominately practice in rural, underserved areas,” said SHSU President Dana Hoyt. “Sam Houston is one of the best-suited universities to address our state’s rural healthcare crisis.”
Unlike other medical schools in the state, SHSU’s proposal requires no new state funding and will bring approximately $68 to $93 million annually in new federal funds to Texas. The proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine will collaborate with hospitals in rural East Texas counties to establish residency-training programs that will benefit the people living in those areas. To date, the proposed college has confirmed 20 affiliation agreements with 26 hospitals.
According to the site visit team, comprised of esteemed medical education professionals, who reviewed the proposal, “The proposed school has the potential to set new standards for addressing health care shortages among a patient population that is both rural and underserved and to define through research the relation of social determinants of health to optimal delivery systems.”
“I am humbled at the outpouring of support received from numerous state legislators, community leaders, medical associations, healthcare providers and thousands of Texans. Their confidence in our ability to deliver on our mission is inspiring,” said Hoyt.