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Phoebe Foundation receives donation for construction of medical student housing complex

Albany hospital receives $1 million donation from Richard King Mellon Foundation

An empty plot at the corner of North Jackson Street and West Fourth Avenue is expected to eventually be the site of a housing complex for the medical students doing rotations in Southwest Georgia. It is being constructed with the help of a $1 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)

An empty plot at the corner of North Jackson Street and West Fourth Avenue is expected to eventually be the site of a housing complex for the medical students doing rotations in Southwest Georgia. It is being constructed with the help of a $1 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)

ALBANY — The Richard King Mellon Foundation has awarded a $1 million gift to the Phoebe Foundation to address the shortage of family care physicians in Southwest Georgia by financing the construction of housing for medical students training at and near Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

“This incredible donation will benefit our entire region,” said Larry Hockman, chairman of the Phoebe Foundation Board of Directors. “We are deeply grateful to the Mellon Foundation responding to this need and recognizing the positive impact this facility will ultimately have on the health of our communities.”

The proposed 25-unit medical student housing gated community will be located on West Fourth Avenue and North Jackson Street near Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital’s main campus. Phoebe Putney Health System already owns the property, which is directly behind the Family Tree child development center. Students from the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University, the University of Georgia Pharmacy School and other medical students studying at Phoebe will have the option to live there at nominal cost, officials with Phoebe said.

Phoebe is home to the MCG Southwest Georgia Clinical Campus, where medical students from GRU in Augusta can spend the better part of their last two years as medical students doing various rotations in Southwest Georgia.

“The impact of this Mellon gift will reverberate through future generations of Southwest Georgians as they seek medical care close to home,” said Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick. “Our experience in our residency and training programs has shown physicians tend to practice where they train. This gift helps us continue our strategy of keeping primary care close to home where it is most effective.”

Georgia ranked 39th in the country in the ratio of doctors per 100,000 population in 2010, the latest year for which data is available, according to the Georgia Board of Physician Workforce. By 2030, officials say Georgia is projected to fall 5,000 physicians short of the estimated need.

This is the largest gift to Phoebe Foundation from the Mellon Foundation, which also gave $500,000 to the Willson Hospice House campaign in 2006.