Watch CBS News

The numbers behind U of M's medical school expansion — including how your tax dollars are being spent

U of M Medical School, CentraCare mark historic campus expansion in St. Cloud
U of M Medical School, CentraCare mark historic campus expansion in St. Cloud 02:05

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — For the first time in decades, the University of Minnesota Medical School is expanding its campus. In collaboration with CentraCare, the U of M is adding a third campus in St. Cloud.

"This is a monumental moment for the state of Minnesota," Dr. Jaub Tolar, U of M Medical School Dean said.

Monumental – and also, historic, as the Duluth campus was added in 1972. Since then, the state population has increased by 50 percent. Collaborators say its all about better serving rural communities.

"One of the challenges of health care delivery in the Great Minnesota area is the shortage of folks," CentraCare CEO and President 

Dr. Ken Holmen said. "Doctors, nurses. The physician shortage is quite pressing."

Holmen said projections show that one third of rural physicians are set to retire in the next five to seven years.

READ MORE: New research at U of M measures brain waves to detect depression, suicide warnings

"The idea is simple," Tolar said. "If you want physicians to practice in Greater Minnesota, you get them from Greater Minnesota. You train them there and get back to the communities that are theirs. They feel at home there."   

The expansion is expected to cost $100 million over the next decade. Last session, lawmakers approved $15 million in funding and Holmen is working with legislatures to get another $13 million next session. CentraCare Foundation announced a $50 million campaign to raise money locally. So far, it's fundraised more than $11 million. CentraCare Operational Funds is also helping fit the bill.

"It takes both organizations to have a willingness and commitment to fund it, to staff it and to support it and that's present very much so right now," Holmen said.

Construction is set to start in March next year. The University of Minnesota Medical CentraCare Regional Campus will welcome its first class of 24 students in fall of 2025. By 2029, the campus will have educated 96 students.

"This is the only way we can turn the tide of the mal distribution of physicians in Minnesota," Tolar said.

While collaborators believe this is a step forward in providing adequate healthcare for Minnesotans, it's also about something bigger.

"It's also about pride in a town and place. It's about economic development and keeping main street open. It's about creating a vibrant future for future generations," Holmen said. "So, its helps create that sense of community in remarkable way. It's about health care absolutely. But it's about everything else that's really important for folks that live in our communities."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.