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Senator Says The LECOM-Elmira Proposal Is A Win-Win For The Southern Tier Region: Will Provide A Major Economic Boost To Chemung County And Boost The Health Of The Region 

New Medical College Is A Cornerstone Of Efforts To Revitalize Downtown Elmira And The Surrounding Area;  Influx Of Primary Care Physicians Will Remedy A Medically Underserved Area Of The State And Improve Health Outcomes Of Its Residents 

Schumer: Med School Expansion Could Be A Booster Shot For The Region

Standing at Arnot Ogden Medical Center, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today joined Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) Medical Students, Arnot Ogden Medical Center resident physicians and Arnot  Ogden Hospital Administration Officials, Members of the Elmira College Administration, and City and County Officials, to rally in support of establishing a four year medical college in the City of Elmira. Schumer said Elmira has begun a highly anticipated and much needed downtown revitalization effort after receiving a $10 million award from New York State. To augment this initiative, Schumer and economic development professionals have worked in collaboration with Elmira College and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine to establish a branch campus housing a four year medical school.

“This proposal is a win-win for those who call Chemung County home. A wave of students, faculty and residents into the community increases development, economic opportunity and that all means jobs which is just what the doctor ordered for the Southern Tier,” said Senator Schumer.  “Today I’m throwing my full support behind the establishment of a four year medical college here in Elmira, which would add tremendously to the vitality of the city, complementing the groundwork community leaders have laid for growth.”

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” will begin 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 increase 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 healthcare 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. However, the school is yet to receive preliminary accreditation by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA). LECOM has been denied an unprecedented four times by COCA despite providing documentation and clarification to questions raised regarding access to learning space and curriculum presented at the proposed Elmira campus.

Schumer continued: “I am urging the federal Department of Education to take all steps appropriate to see that the appeal process LECOM is currently engaged in is fair, thorough and swift. It is troubling that questions abound whether LECOM’s proposal for Elmira has received a fair and objective process. Given how impactful this project is for the community it is imperative that we ensure it receive the appropriate consideration it is due. That is why I have called on the feds to ensure that it is evaluated on its merits and the credentials that Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine has spent decades building.”

College and local officials assert that COCA’s rejections are capricious and standards have not been objectively applied throughout the process, at the same time. The US Department of Education, who currently designates COCA as an accrediting body of Collages of Osteopathic Medicine has in recent times expressed concern over their accreditation process as a whole and has sought a response from COCA in regards to their questions.  

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).

"Despite our presentation a well-conceived and thoroughly vetted proposal, despite LECOM’s track record of unprecedented excellent outcomes for all our campuses, despite our the extensive clinical network of rotations and graduate medical education opportunities we have developed here at Arnot and 4 other health systems in underserved regions of our State—COCA has still not yet granted us an approval to move forward. This is not right. This undermines our efforts to serve our community and other medically underserved areas of NYS by increasing the supply of future physicians to care for our citizens," said Dr. Richard Terry, Assistant Dean of Regional Clinical Education and Chief Academic Officer LECOMT.

On behalf of the City of Elmira, I’d like to thank Senator Schumer for all of his efforts and support to bring LECOM to Elmira College.  LECOM is important to the City and our initiatives with our DRI Plan and the revitalization of Downtown Elmira.  The City is grateful for this support and looks forward to working with State as we move forward,” said Dan Mandell Mayor City of Elmira

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, Senator Schumer sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education’s Acting Assistant Secretary to urge the Department to ensure COCA conducts an equitable and expeditious review of the appeal, based on COCA’s published standards and the factual evidence prepared in LECOM’s application.

A copy of Schumer’s March letter to the Department of Education is 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