Southern contacts Kirksville school about medical school partnership

An osteopathic medical school in Kirskville has been contacted about partnering with Missouri Southern, a local doctor says.

Dr. Larry McIntire, chair of a steering committee charged with investigating a medical school branch at Southern, said Wednesday that preliminary overtures have been made to A.T. Still University and its Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, an osteopathic school Southern had hoped to partner with, voted unanimously against the proposal on Tuesday.

“We’ve not had any direct meeting with anyone, we have made one call,” McIntire said.

“We are making an effort and are hoping for some negotiations with A.T. Still University in Kirksville,” he added.

McIntire said he wasn’t surprised at the result of the vote by KCUMB’s board of trustees.

“We knew that was coming,” he said. “It would have been a real surprise for them to say differently because of our understanding of what’s happening in Kansas City, so we were okay. We’ve had three or four months for the shock to wear down.”

McIntire said the next move in the effort to bring a medical school to Joplin is for the steering committee to meet and analyze alternatives. He said that committee has lost no commitment to the concept, and has instead gained ground in the forms of exposure and a better understanding of the region.

“It’s not been a waste of time and we don’t sense, other than we need to make other arrangements, we don’t sense this has in anyway been a failure to get ourselves prepared,” he said.

While McIntire declined to get into specifics about the makeup of the committee, he said both hospitals in Joplin are represented. Board member Dwight Douglas also serves on the committee, along with University President Bruce Speck. Community leaders on the committee include Chamber of Commerce President Rob O’Brian and Bill Gibson, President and CEO of Empire Electric.

Additional members will be named, as well, he said.

Danny Weaver, the interim president of KCUMB and leader of the institution’s board, said this week his school would consider talking with Southern again in the future once issues facing that school are resolved. McIntire said that was an “option of value.”

“I agreed with him that we would certainly like to come back to the table in the event we have not been able to move other directions,” McIntire said. “And if it’s timely enough, of course.”