New details emerge about Mercer medical school campus planned for Columbus

New details about the expanded medical school planned for Columbus have emerged.

The Mercer University Board of Trustees voted Friday to authorize construction of a medical school campus in downtown Columbus, six months after the project was announced.

Here are the details, according to Mercer’s news release:

  • Location: The Ledger-Enquirer reported in May that people involved with the project said the campus will be on the site of the 60,000-square-foot, two-story Rothschild Building, a former Synovus call center, on 11th Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues. Mercer media relations director Kyle Sears confirmed the location Friday in an email to the L-E.

  • Size: The current building will be demolished. The new building will be three floors, containing research labs, instructional space and administrative offices, and will cover 76,000 square feet, an increase of 9% from the original estimate.
  • Cost: $32.4 million, an increase of 30% from the original estimate.

  • Timeline: Construction is expected to begin in early 2020 and finish by the start of classes in August 2021.

The new campus will allow Mercer to expand its medical school program in Columbus from two years to four years.

Mercer medical students have been doing clinical rotations with Columbus doctors for more than 20 years. In 2012, the Macon-based university expanded its involvement in the local medical community by offering clinical education to third- and fourth-year medical students at Midtown Medical Center (now called Piedmont Columbus Regional) and St. Francis Hospital. That program has grown from 12 to 40 students in seven years.

Now, Mercer expects to eventually increase that number to 240 students in the downtown Columbus campus. That would equal enrollment at the university’s other two medical school campuses, in Macon since 1982 and in Savannah since 2008.

The office for Mercer’s two-year program in Columbus is at 33 West 11th Street. The clinical rotations for third- and fourth-year medical students will continue at the Piedmont and St. Francis hospitals after the new campus opens.

Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Mark Rice covers education and other issues related to youth. He also writes feature stories about any compelling topic. He has been reporting in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for more than a quarter-century. He welcomes your local news tips and questions.