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 supplies;
- 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 Puerto Rico.)
“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 its residents.
“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.