Push to speed up UC Merced Medical School launch

MERCED, Calif.

Many medical clinics across the Valley are busy year round, including this one in Atwater.

"Our clinic is always full," said Dr. Donald Golden. "We're seeing 30 plus, sometimes each physician sees 40 patients a day."

Dr. Donald Golden lives in the Bay Area but travels here to see patients because he says the need is so great.

"There isn't nearly enough physicians in the community to provide quality care for this population," added Dr. Donald Golden.

That's why state senator Anthony Cannella has now proposed legislation to train more doctors through UC Merced.

Senator Cannella explained, "Unless we're able to provide the doctors that are trained here and will hopefully stay here we're not going to be able to address the growing need."

Canella's SB 841 takes a two prong approach. The first is $900,000 toward the San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education, or "PRIME." It's a collaboration between UC Merced, UC Savis School of Medicine, and UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program. The money would double the number of students enrolled.

"So using a 4 year window, it's about 12 students per year," said Senator Cannella. "So it's 48 students that would go through this every four years."

Canella's bill would also provide $1 million to start the process of planning UC Merced's own medical school. The republican has support from two democratic co-authors, state senator Cathleen Galgiani and Assemblyman Adam Gray.

"To get any legislation through the legislature is hard, it's by design set up that way," said Senator Cannella. "But we've got myself and my two colleagues and we're going to work very hard to get it done."

UC Merced released a statement to Action News about the bill that says in part, "...we truly appreciate the legislators' support of our campus and region, and we look forward to continue working together to improve the quality of health and health care in the San Joaquin Valley."

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