ELMIRA, N.Y. (July 19, 2021) — The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) today reinforced its role as a leader in meeting the challenges of 21st century healthcare as it celebrated the region’s first medical school, LECOM at Elmira.
Today’s event brought together college officials with state and local leaders to formally fête LECOM’s fourth campus and officially recognize the culmination of a years-long effort to establish a medical school in an underserved area facing a critical physician shortage. The celebration, originally planned for spring 2020 but postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was held just days shy of the one-year anniversary of LECOM at Elmira’s official opening.
LECOM administration welcomed New York State Sen. Tom O’Mara, Chemung County Executive Christopher Moss and City of Elmira Mayor Daniel Mandell Jr. along with other invited guests to the event, which included brief remarks, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours of the facility.
LECOM’s introduction to the Elmira community first came in 2012 when the college began sending its third- and fourth-year medical students to Arnot Health and other Southern Tier hospitals for clinical education. Those affiliations opened the door for LECOM’s further expansion into the region, including the opportunity to establish a LECOM satellite location on the campus of Elmira College. In September 2018, the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation approved LECOM’s application to expand its Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program to Elmira, giving the school the green light to proceed with the venture.
Construction on the $20 million LECOM at Elmira project, which received a $3 million boost from New York’s Regional Council awards, began in January 2019. Twelve months later, the 52,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility was all but complete. In July 2020, LECOM welcomed its inaugural class to the Elmira campus, marking the official transition from years of planning and development to the start of on-site classroom instruction.
“LECOM at Elmira will produce a sustainable pipeline of future physicians for not only the Southern Tier and Western New York but for all of Upstate NY. Ultimately, this will create more access to care which will lead better health outcomes and lower cost,” said Dr. Richard Terry, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, LECOM at Elmira.
On Friday, LECOM at Elmira will welcome its second class of aspiring physicians, the Class of 2025. Both Elmira classes boast 145 students who hail from the Empire State, a statistic that bodes well for the region. Historically, medical school graduates often continue their post-graduate training within the same area in which they attended medical school. Should that trend continue, the Southern Tier and western New York will see an influx of healthcare practitioners in the coming decades, ensuring highly trained physicians will fill a void for the region’s medically underserved residents.
The economic impact of the LECOM at Elmira campus has also been significant for the city of Elmira. A January 2018 Tripp Umbach feasibility study estimated the direct and indirect economic impact of LECOM at Elmira during its two-year start-up period would reach $60.4 million, provide 301 jobs and add $1.7 million in taxes to the Southern Tier. That financial impact is expected to increase over time, and the introduction of the college, its students and staff has already spurred economic and community improvements.
LECOM has received enthusiastic support from both the local community, which has welcomed the school and its students with open arms, as well as state officials.
“Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine is just what the doctor ordered for the Southern Tier to improve the quality of healthcare and address the shortage of doctors in the region. A new medical school means investment, more economic opportunities, and new physicians to support the residents in the Southern Tier and Upstate NY as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Schumer. “It was a long fight, but I am proud to have stood alongside officials from LECOM and Chemung County to make the critical expansion of medical education in Elmira possible.”
With the addition of LECOM at Elmira, total enrollment in LECOM’s College of Osteopathic Medicine program has surpassed 2,400 students at its four campuses, which include locations in Erie and Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and Bradenton, Florida. LECOM now enrolls more than 4,300 students across all disciplines. The LECOM at Elmira campus will eventually be home to 480 aspiring physicians, further solidifying LECOM’s position as the nation’s largest medical school.