Caribbean medical school relocates to Tennessee after hurricanes

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A report by Rachel Ohm for USA Today.

More than 1,400 faculty, students and staff from a Caribbean medical school are planning to temporarily relocate to Knoxville this winter following Hurricane Maria’s destruction in the school’s home country of Dominica.

Students at Ross University School of Medicine are currently completing their fall semester classes on a cruise ship at port off the island of St. Kitts.

They’ll begin their winter semester at facilities belonging to Lincoln Memorial University, according to a news release from Ross University obtained through LMU.

The university has made plans to lease a West Knoxville property purchased by LMU in March, according to LMU spokeswoman Kate Reagan.

The property contains two buildings, only one of which will be leased by Ross University. Long-term plans for the site are still under development by LMU.

“The continuity of our students’ education and their academic programming is our highest priority, and we are pleased to work with LMU to make these extraordinary facilities available.”

Ross plans to continue to use its own medical sciences curriculum and faculty while making use of the LMU teaching and office facilities, including an anatomy lab.

Efforts are underway to acquire all necessary regulatory approvals and finalize
other details, the release said.

In 2016-2017, 97 percent of the university’s students were from the U.S. and Canada, according to spokeswoman Nicole Pride.

While many of its buildings remain intact, there was significant damage to the campus during the hurricane in mid-September and a real estate team is working to assess damage and make repairs.

The Category 5 storm is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record in Dominica, a tiny island nation home to about 71,000 people.

“Lincoln Memorial University is proud to be able to assist Ross University School of Medicine under these extreme circumstances,” said LMU board of trustees Chairman Autry “Pete” DeBusk, in the release.

“As an institution with a strong commitment to combating health care shortages in Appalachia and beyond, there is a synergy in providing the students and faculty of RUSM a home away from home while they rebuild from this fall’s devastating hurricanes.

“Our recent purchase of the spacious west Knoxville property enables us to step up to help RUSM. Over the next year, LMU will continue to develop its plans to further expand its health offerings in Knoxville. In the meantime, we’re pleased to accommodate RUSM with an excellent facility that is well-suited in size and scale to meet the needs of a medical school curriculum.”

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