SHREVEPORT, La. – Marking one year of partnership with Ochsner Health System, Louisiana State University Health Shreveport held a ceremonial groundbreaking at the future site of its new Center for Medical Education.
When construction is complete, the $60 million facility will replace the existing medical school building, and be poised to accommodate larger classes of students, residents and fellows.
"This is just a good day for northwest Louisiana, and really for the entire state," said Gov. John Bel Edwards, who attended Thursday’s ceremony along with several state lawmakers and leaders from Caddo Parish and the City of Shreveport.
The state has pledged $28 million to build the facility, which LSU Health Shreveport Chancellor Dr. G.E. Ghali hopes will address physician shortages in the region and make Shreveport even more of a destination for medical care and research.
"(It) allows us to expand our medical school class size, allows us to bring really contemporary educational modality to the students, to the residents, to the fellows in north Louisiana," Ghali said.
The facility will feature a wellness center, a multi-use auditorium, clinical exam rooms and other modern upgrades.
Edwards and LSU President F. King Alexander call the new facility, along with LSU Health’s partnership with Ochsner, an investment in the economy and physical wellbeing of the Ark-La-Tex.
“The quality of the care at the hospital is improving. The bottom line – the financial bottom line of the medical school has been greatly improved, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to come up here today and break ground on a $60 million new medical education building,” Edwards said.
"We've always said that we wanted to build this into the vibrant entity and the vibrant medical school and center it can be,” Alexander said. “Right now, we've never had more optimism about going forward than we do today."
More than $10 million in private donations have been committed to the project. Warner Thomas, the President and CEO of Ochsner, said the company would commit $5 million.
Thursday’s ceremonial groundbreaking did not signal the start of construction on the Center for Medical Education. According to a spokeswoman for LSU Health Shreveport, an architect was selected for the project last week. She said because a different architect drew up a preliminary plan, construction could begin in roughly nine months.