Ponce Health Sciences University has broken ground on the construction of an $80 million campus and medical research facility, which will be the largest of its kind in Puerto Rico, school officials said.
The expansion comes in the wake
of the conditional authorization it has received from the Liaison Committee on
Medical Education – which is the accrediting body for U.S. medical schools — to
expand its enrolled class size from 90 students per class to 150.
The gain, which will be based
upon PHSU’s ability to provide resources that will accommodate the increase in
student population, will position PHSU as the most attended medical school in
Puerto Rico, and one of the largest private medical schools in the United
States, with 600 enrolled students.
“The high quality of our
curriculum, the stability of our finances, and the achievements of our students
and graduates all contributed to this exciting opportunity to grow our class
size,” said David Lenihan, CEO of Ponce Health Sciences University.
“The enhanced ability to serve
more students at a new state-of-the-art campus will allow us to ramp up our
primary mission: to reduce the clinician shortage in Puerto Rico and the
Spanish-speaking clinician shortage in the mainland United States by training
diverse and highly qualified medical professionals,” he said.
Given the vast damage that
Hurricane María caused the college in 2017, its increased class size and new
campus will represent a “remarkable rebirth” for the school, said Lenihan.
In the wake of the devastating
hurricane, the school’s staff, faculty and students headed efforts to help
residents in southern Puerto Rico who were most affected by María, including:
- Coordinating arrivals of private planes from Miami
and New York with 250,000 pounds of donated water, food, heaters, and medical
- Distributing these donations, as well as
offering medical and mental health services, to remote areas in the region that
hadn’t been reached by rescue teams;
- Providing free mental health services at a
campus clinic to residents who were suffering from PTSD; and,
- Continuing to provide these services at a loss,
even after federal funding to support the clinic was cut off (the clinic
continues to be one of the only providers of mental health services in southern
“PHSU played a pivotal role in
relief efforts for our region,” said Ponce Mayor María Meléndez.
“The support and aid provided
by the school were indispensable to my administration after Hurricane Maria and
helped increase the reach and speed of the services provided to citizens in
need,” she said, adding the new campus will have a positive impact on Ponce and
“PHSU’s new campus will
contribute to a stronger municipal economy by creating direct and indirect jobs
for Ponce’s residents,” said Meléndez.
“The school’s expansion will
also result in new and unprecedented medical commerce, medical tourism, and a
robust medical industry in Puerto Rico that follows the high standards of the
American medical practice that is sought after by the world,” she said.