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Liberty to open primary care clinic in early '15
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Liberty Universityís College of Osteopathic Medicine will open a full-service primary care clinic in March

Liberty Universityís College of Osteopathic Medicine will open a full-service primary care clinic in March in the former Northern Tool building, next to the Kmart on Wards Road.

City records show that Liberty University purchased the building and a total of five acres of property for $3 million this past July.

Initially, plans called for the clinic to be located within the Center for Medical and Health Sciences on Candlers Mountain Road, where the College of Osteopathic Medicine is housed.

During a delay in construction on the west portion of the building, though, officials determined the school had a greater-than-expected need for clinical research space.

Combined with accessibility concerns, they decided to move the planned clinic from the Candlers Mountain Road property to the Wards Road property. What was to be clinic space at the Center is now being turned into research labs. Six of the eight labs already are spoken for by researchers at the college working on everything from Alzheimerís to back injuries.

Dr. Ronnie Martin, dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, said there are two reasons the college is establishing a free-standing clinic.

Most significantly, accreditation requires it to provide health care to the community. Also, the clinic will provide a training site for students. Martin expects D.O. students to begin shadowing physicians at the clinic later this school year.

The college received provisional accreditation from the American Osteopathic Associationís Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation in May 2013.

Based on need and location, Martin said the LUCOM clinic does not expect to be competing with other health care providers. He said the school has not experienced pushback from local providers.

Martin estimates the clinic will be about a $5 million investment for the medical college.

The site, which will be equipped to handle more than 200 patients daily, will be staffed by Liberty University physicians but run by an independent entity. LUCOM expects to sign a management agreement with a local physicians group in the coming weeks.

The clinic will offer family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, womenís health services, osteopathic manipulation, sports medicine, behavioral health care and have X-ray and lab capabilities.

Fees will be based on a sliding scale. Martin expects the majority of patients to be Liberty University faculty, staff and students, but it also will be open to walk-in clients from the community.

It will not replace the Liberty University student health clinic currently operated by Centra. That clinic will continue to operate until July 2016, according to contract.

The LUCOM clinic will be staffed by the equivalent of six full-time physicians, who will split their time between teaching and practicing medicine. The clinic will employ approximately 20 other staff.

Martin said physicians could be ready to see patients as soon as February.