More changes to come: LECOM partnership creates greater possibilities

Mercyhurst College expanded its educational and health care opportunities through a partnership with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM).

Administrators from the college explained how this partnership will benefit Mercyhurst and its students.

“The opportunity is for two educational enterprises here in Erie to combine our efforts together to help the student population,” Vice President of Student Life Dr. Gerry Tobin said.
Mercyhurst College President Dr. Thomas Gamble said, “We look forward to a fruitful and productive relationship that will result in long-term synergy and strategic planning between our two institutions.”

One benefit for the students is that they will “get really good medical care,” Tobin said.

As part of the agreement, Dr. Sarah Breon and Dr. Troy Thompson were added to the staff of the Cohen Health Center at the beginning of the 2009-2010 academic year.

Prior to the LECOM partnership, physicians worked between six and eight hours a week, Director of the Cohen Health Center Christine Dimperio said.

Now, with the addition of Breon and Thompson, there is a physician present for at least two hours a day, for a total of 12 hours a week. This arrangement allows a doctor to be available to students five days a week.

Despite the additions, the remainder of the staff at the Health Center has not changed.

“Our nursing and front end staff have been together now for 15 years,” Dimperio said.

Besides increasing the availability of doctors, this agreement results in educational benefits for students.

Physical therapy students and sportsmedicine students will benefit from this agreement because they will receive more learning opportunities, Tobin said.

Students from various majors have the opportunity to observe specialists at the LECOM Wellness Center and Millcreek Community Hospital.

“Adding this very large wellness and medical facility into the total clinical experience that we offer our sportsmedicine students provides an even greater opportunity for them to observe and learn from allied health care professionals,” sportsmedicine department chair Bradley Jacobson said.

According to Dimperio, students who frequent the Health Center will receive educational benefits as well.

“Our doctors were always great at teaching,” Dimperio said. Now, having two physicians at the Health Center increases and continues the teaching of students, she said.

As this partnership between Mercyhurst and LECOM grows, there is a greater potential for new ideas to evolve, Tobin said.
According to Gamble, one of these possibilities is a graduate program in sportsmedicine.

The agreement between Mercyhurst and LECOM was announced at a press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 24.