Funds given to medical school could be given to county hospital

Archive/HIGHLANDER
Archive/HIGHLANDER

A potential $1.5 million in funding from Riverside County, initially dedicated to the UC Riverside School of Medicine, could be used instead toward the replacement of equipment at the Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley.

According to a 2014-15 county report, budget shortfalls are expected in various county departments, including the sheriff, district attorney and assessor. The Riverside County Hospital reported that it was falling into an approximately $50 million deficit. The hospital has expressed its need for a new MRI machine costing approximately $1.8 million and for repairs on their elevators and main dishwasher, which have been put off for years.

County Executive Officer Jay Orr spoke about his desire to cease a yearly commitment with UCR’s medical school which sends students to participate in training at the county hospital. If this partnership is terminated, the funds would go to increase the overall efficiency of the hospital’s core functions with new equipment and repairs. In addition, students from the medical school will need to seek training at other hospitals.

Opening in 2013, the UCR School of Medicine was given $11 million in startup money and is currently granted $15 million annually in state funding. “The School’s annual operating budget has now reached $50 million, and, with the addition of 60 clinical faculty members in recent years, those physicians are generating an estimated $90 million in indirect economic activity,” commented UCR spokesman James Grant.

Currently, UCR officials consider the budget for the medical school to be more than sufficient, and believe it should run smoothly even without this partnership. “The funds the School has received from the County have been instrumental in our ability to create a strong foundation for our operations. At this time, the financial situation of the School is sound, and we can move forward with vigor in our mission with other resources,” continued Grant.

Others, however, believe differently. “Without funding provided by the local hospital, medical students are deprived of opportunities to gain hands-on experience in their field, as well as the opportunity to network,” mentioned Kasim Ahmad, a second-year biology major.

Discussions over how this money should be disbursed are still moving forward and a detailed budget will be compiled and presented in mid-June, with a final spending plan being announced in September.

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