The first entering class of students at Duquesne University’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine will be outfitted with devices to aid patient examinations in remote areas under an award from the federal government.
Money for the portable ultrasound handheld devices is included in a $2.2 million grant to help finance the school’s construction. It is contained within the $1.7 trillion omnibus funding package approved by Congress to operate the federal government.
The college, rising along Forbes Avenue across from UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse, is intended to help reduce the worsening shortage of primary care physicians in Western Pennsylvania and nationally, particularly in underserved urban and rural areas.
Officials say they hope to enroll the first 85 medical students in August 2024.
Retiring U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, proposed the construction award to the college. The ultrasound devices can be easily transported to a patient’s location, making them ideal for residents in communities that lack access to care, university officials said.
Duquesne President Ken Gormley said the retiring congressman’s “support of Duquesne’s new medical school is one of hundreds of projects he has successfully championed to benefit our broader community.”
The medical college is the largest project in Duquesne’s history. About half of its projected $151 million cost has been tied to demolition and construction of an 80,000-square-foot, five-story building housing the college.
Officials have said they ultimately hope to enroll 680 students and employ 60 to 80 faculty and staff members.
Duquesne proposed the college six months before the covid-19 pandemic hit the United States. School leaders continued toward their goal even as the pandemic shuttered Duquesne and other campuses in the spring of 2020. Gormley said the health inequities laid bare by the pandemic drove home the college’s importance.
“It is so clear that this is the moment for a project like this,” Gormley said as plans progressed last year.
Officials with the Osteopathic College Association in Bethesda, Md., have said almost half of Pennsylvania’s doctors practice in just three of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties: Allegheny, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
The new college is expected to draw on health sciences and other existing Duquesne programs. The university’s Center for Integrative Health and other schools provide thousands of health screenings, flu immunizations, covid-19 vaccines and asthma clinics, among other services, for vulnerable populations in the region. Officials have said the project is consistent with Catholic outreach and service of the Spiritans who founded the university in 1878 to educate children of immigrants.