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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

Hospital meets with WSU medical college


Scott Hunter

Kenneth Roberts gestures while explaining the progress of WSU's college of medicine to officials at Coulee Medical Center. From left are hospital district commissioners Clea Pryor, CEO Debbie Bigelow, CFO Paul Babcock, Chief Nursing Officer Ramona Hicks, Jeffrey Bell, Roberts, Chief of Staff Dr. Andrew Castrodale and visiting University of Washington student Aaron K. Livingston.

Hospital officials met last week with Washington State University officials working to make that institution's new medical school a reality.

Kenneth Roberts, the vice dean for academic and community partnerships for the WSU College of Medicine, along with Jeffrey Bell, a partner at Gallatin Public Affairs, stopped at CMC to give officials there an update on WSU's progress in launching the new medical school.

They've also been touring rural hospitals to undertand the needs and capabilities they have for teaching medical students, which they said vary widely. The two had been to Lincoln Hospital in Davenport, and planned to visit hospitals and clinics in Omak, Chelan, Ephrata, Moses Lake and Odessa on the two-day trip.

CMC has been successfully involved in the University of Washington's medical school program, which reaches out to rural hospitals in four states to provide training in rural hospital settings.

Dr. Andrew Castrodale, CMC's chief of staff, considers teaching to be essential to the success of the hospital because it establishes long-term relationships that lead to finding good matches for future doctors.

A big part of WSU's medical school mission is to encourage the medical community to serve rural and other under-served areas. The university's plan, Roberts said, is to establish four hubs in rural areas where teaching will occur. Putting those hubs in rural areas will also help the program to attract students more likely to embrace a rural life, increasing the supply of doctors, it's thought.

"We like being a hub," offered CMC's Chief Financial Officer Paul Babcock, which initiated a round of chuckles and arguments for CMC as a choice.

One of those could turn out be the reputation CMC already enjoys among medical educators. Castrodale, Roberts told The Star later, has a "stellar" reputation in that community.

First, WSU's curriculum will have to be accredited by the state. They'll find out in October if that will happen with the curriculum as it stands or whether adjustments will have to be made.

The two got a tour of CMC's facility after the meeting. Roberts thought the obstetrics area was "outstanding," and Bell said at the conclusion that the facility was "very impressive."


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