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Today, The Commission On Osteopathic Medicine Approved LECOM’s Application To Establish The Very First Four Year Medical School In The Southern Tier At Elmira College

In Recent Years, Schumer Wrote To And Urged Both The Commission On Osteopathic College Accreditation And The Dept. Of Education, And Held A Rally At The Arnot Ogden Medical Center, To Support LECOM’s Proposal, As The Four Year Medical Program Is A Cornerstone Of Elmira’s Ongoing Downtown Revitalization Effort

Schumer: A Medical School In Elmira Is Just What The Doctor Ordered For The Southern Tier

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that following his years-long push, the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) has approved the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (LECOM) application to establish a new Osteopathic Medical School at Elmira College. Schumer explained that establishing a new med school in Elmira would help address the area’s shortage of doctors, as doctors who train in an area are more likely to end up practicing there. Schumer explained that he worked hard to support LECOM’s application to establish a med school in Elmira through multiple avenues, including when he visited the Arnot Medical Center in 2017, when he wrote to the U.S. Department of Education earlier that year, when he wrote to COCA in 2015, and in numerous phone calls with representatives of both COCA and the Department of Education. Schumer said that Elmira has begun a highly anticipated and much-needed downtown revitalization effort after receiving a $10 million award from New York State last year and that LECOM’s accreditation to establish a new medical school in Elmira would only augment that initiative.

“The news that Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine has received approval to expand medical education to Elmira is just what the doctor ordered for the Southern Tier. A medical college means investment, more economic activity, and new physicians to support the health needs of residents in the Southern Tier and Western New York, where the need is high and general practitioners are scarce,” said Senator Schumer. “It was a long fight, but I was pleased to fight on behalf of this important proposal, and am proud to have stood alongside officials from LECOM, Elmira College, Chemung County and the City Of Elmira and the wonderful Tom Santulli, who have worked tirelessly to see this project across the finish line.”    

City and County officials along with Southern Tier Economic Growth have diligently assembled a targeted plan to promote development and resurgence within the city’s urban core. “Refresh Elmira” began a synergy of other development efforts throughout the community of which the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine proposal is a cornerstone. The establishment of a branch four-year medical college will bring an influx of students and faculty into the community. LECOM projects an estimate of 80 students each year, plus faculty will be added to the downtown daily. The presence of resident physicians at the hospital also in the downtown will spur residential development, and other support services as part of the downtown revitalization effort.

These students and resident physicians will help populate the downtown, creating a demand for housing and increasing demand for goods and services, all of which will promote development and investment within proximity to the campus and hospital.

The establishment of a branch four-year medical college is the first in the Southern Tier region to train primary care physicians, something that is in short supply. The Southern Tier and Western NY regions face a significant shortage of health care providers with a ratio of 1500:1 for patients to primary care doctors. The Western NY and Southern Tier regions have some of the lowest ranking health outcomes in the state, with Chemung County ranking #50 out of 62. A medical school in the Southern Tier could make significant strides in remedying some of the challenges the region currently faces to the well-being of its residents.

The LECOM Elmira Medical School Campus has received provisional accreditation from the Middle States Commission of Higher Education within the scope of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine’s existing accreditation. Now that the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) has approved LECOM’s application, plans can move forward to establish the first four-year medical school in Elmira.

Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, is a well-established medical college, the largest in the United States with over 2,280 medical students at its 3 campuses. In 2016 U.S News and World Report ranked it number one in medical colleges over 1,000 students. LECOM already is an established fixture in New York State with over 320 medical students performing rotations at 16 New York State hospitals including Arnot Ogden Medical Center of Elmira, Our Lady of Lourdes of Binghamton, United Memorial in Batavia, Samaritan Hospital in Watertown, Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital and Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport NY. LECOM has received full accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and its Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program has received previous approval from the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA).

In 2015, Senator Schumer sent a letter of support for the establishment of the Medical College in Elmira to COCA on behalf of LECOM’s application. And again in March 2017, Senator Schumer sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education’s Acting Assistant Secretary to urge the Department to ensure COCA conducted an equitable and expeditious review of the appeal, based on COCA’s published standards and the factual evidence prepared in LECOM’s application. In April 2017, Schumer stood at the Arnot Ogden Medical Center with LECOM Medical Students, Arnot Ogden Medical Center resident physicians and Arnot Ogden Hospital Administration Officials, and other Elmira officials to rally in support of establishing a four-year medical college in the City of Elmira. In May 2017, during a personal call to the CEO of the American Osteopathic Association, Senator Schumer conveyed his support for the proposal and highlighted the importance this project held for the health of the region.

A copy of Schumer’s March 2017 letter to the Department of Education appears below:

Dear Acting Assistant Secretary Mahaffie,

I write to bring to your attention Lake Erie College of Medicine’s (LECOM) proposal to the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) regarding the college’s proposed branch campus at Elmira College. As one of the largest medical schools in the United States and a major presence in the healthcare field, LECOM’s proposal has a wide array of community support. It could greatly benefit a rural swathe of New York State, but, thus far, has been denied by COCA.

As the medical school with the largest number of applicants in the United States, LECOM is looking to expand, and Elmira has an existing foundation of strong support that will help promote the success of a medical school. For years now the LECOM-Elmira proposal has been a cornerstone of efforts to revitalize the community and the surrounding area. Local leaders, elected officials, economic development specialists, educators, and healthcare administrators have diligently worked to ensure that the community is well-prepared for a new medical school. State and local funding commitments have been made to complement LECOM’s investment in the creation of an environment that meets the needs of the school, its students, and faculty.

Not only is a new medical school widely welcomed, it could be transformational for a region facing significant healthcare challenges. The Southern Tier and Western New York have some of the state’s worst health outcomes, with a patient-to-primary care doctor ratio of 1500:1. Chemung County, home to Elmira College, ranks 50th out of 62 counties in the state for health outcomes. LECOM-Elmira’s training program would focus on primary care and rural practice, with an aim to bolster the number of primary care physicians in the region. LECOM has already made a significant contribution and investment in New York State. It has established a network of clinical training sites throughout New York State. It has established partnerships and affiliations with healthcare facilities throughout Upstate New York, with many in the Western and Southern Tier regions, and has placed nearly 200 residents at these affiliated institutions, working to fill the void in areas of most need. The proposal would help continue on this path.

LECOM-Elmira has received accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. An appeal is once again up for review by COCA, a division of the American Osteopathic Association, which in turn is accredited by the US Department of Education. I am aware that a thorough multi-step process is prescribed by both federal and state government with the intention that only the highest caliber institutions obtain approval to deliver instruction to future practitioners of osteopathic medicine. Local and LECOM officials are concerned that their proposal is not being judged on its merits. I urge USED to ensure COCA conducts an equitable and expeditious review of the appeal, based on COCA’s published standards and the factual evidence presented in LECOM’s application.


Charles Schumer

United States Senator