ALBANY, Ga. -- Officials from a medical school currently in partnership with an Albany hospital for the purpose of improving physician accessibility in Southwest Georgia paid a visit Wednesday to the Good Life City to see the fruits of their labor.
New Medical College of Georgia President Dr. Ricardo Azziz toured Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, and as well as the institution's new headquarters for its Southwest Georgia Clinical Campus across the street from the hospital.
"One of our goals is to have an abundance of health care professionals," said Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick. "If we are successful, Albany and Southwest Georgia will remain the place thousands of people will want to live."
This visit comes on the heels of the announcement that the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia had officially approved a name change for MCG. Effective Feb. 1, the institution will be known as Georgia Health Sciences University.
Officials with the school say the name change was prompted by studies indicating that "Medical College of Georgia" did not accurately reflect its status as a comprehensive health sciences institution.
"The problem is that we are a great health sciences university, and perception is reality," Azziz said.
Founded in 1828 as the Medical Academy of Georgia, the school has been renamed five times. It was first changed to the Medical College of Georgia in 1833, and it has been called that continuously since 1950.
The institution's president said MCG's presence in this region of the state is vital to maintaining Georgia's health care industry.
"In many ways there are two Georgias -- Atlanta and the rest of Georgia," Azziz said. "This is an important area for the state; this is a focus for us.
"This partnership is a springboard."
Dr. Peter Buckley, interim dean of the MCG School of Medicine in Augusta, and a host of other physicians, joined Azziz on the half-day visit. This is the first visit they have made to the Albany campus since its opening.
Azziz and Buckley were also expected to meet with various Phoebe officials, Albany State University President Everette Freeman, legislators, MCG alumni and students, a news release from Phoebe said.