Georgia officials break ground on UGA medical school building in Athens

(The Center Square) — Georgia officials broke ground on the University of Georgia’s new medical school building in Athens.

Georgia taxpayers are chipping in $50 million in state funding for the facility, and private contributions will match the public dollars for the 92,000-square-foot, $100 million medical education and research building.

On Feb. 13, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents authorized UGA to launch an independent School of Medicine in Athens. UGA has partnered with Augusta University on a medical school since 2010.

“Georgia desperately needs an increase in medical providers and workforce throughout,” Lt. Governor Burt Jones, a Republican, said in a statement. “With today’s groundbreaking, we can begin to take the necessary steps to increase the number of medical professionals and provide high quality and accessible healthcare to all Georgians.”

Officials point to a ranking from the Association of American Medical Colleges, which found the Peach State ranks No. 40 in the nation for active patient care physicians per capita and No. 41 for active primary care physicians. The Friday groundbreaking happened the same day Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed several health bills, including a measure to relax state certificate of need requirements for health facilities.

“Georgia is growing,” Sonny Perdue, former governor and chancellor of the University System of Georgia, said in an announcement. “We may only be only eighth today, but in just a few short years Georgia could be the fifth largest state. And that means we are going to need more health care, and people are going to get it here and across the state.”