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  1. Opinion

Editorial: Patels' contribution to med school benefits community

Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel have committed $200 million for a Tampa Bay campus of Nova Southeastern University.
Published Sep. 29, 2017

Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel have made another generous contribution that will further the health of this community and beyond. The Tampa Bay couple has committed to open a new medical school in Clearwater, the latest in a string of major public and private investments in the area's health care industry. This is another sign that local leaders are coalescing around a sound vision, and it's a testament to the role the private sector can play in growing the region's fortunes and image.

The Patels committed $200 million to establish and promote a Tampa Bay regional campus for the Fort Lauderdale-based Nova Southeastern University. Their donation of $50 million in cash and $150 million in real estate and facilities will go to build a medical education complex for the private, nonprofit Nova. The project will expand access to medical training and patient care, especially for poorly served communities, and strengthen the area's position in the health care sector.

The Patels have given back to this community for years, with multimillion dollar donations to the University of South Florida, Florida Hospital, Pepin Heart Institute and other cherished civic causes. This contribution continues their commitment to public health and education. It will go toward an osteopathic medicine program and include scholarships in health sciences. The Patels will retain ownership of the land and facilities, while Nova will oversee the curriculum and academics. Kiran Patel said he wants the school to focus on both international connections and serving local residents. He hopes the project will bring more primary care physicians to Florida, which is terribly short of the doctors it will need over the next decade.

The announcement marks the latest major investment in health care in the region. The state and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik are building a new USF medical school in downtown Tampa. Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson and biotech company Amgen have opened new offices in Tampa. The Hearst family announced a $75 million investment this month in the cancer-care treatment program at Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. The Patel-Nova medical school will bring new money, expertise and opportunities to the region that will improve health care and raise the area's global profile.

Government and business leaders have rightly targeted health care as an important industry for this region to grow. Having the public and private sectors on the same page will help the region better compete. The Patels' commitment to the area is a confidence-builder, and it should inspire other donors and entrepreneurs to take a hard look at the bay area's ambitions and see the potential.

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