The Oregon State Senate lauded the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific–Northwest as a key factor in addressing the state’s health care needs.

The Senate unanimously approved Senate Resolution 2, co-authored by state Sen. Alan Bates, DO, D-Medford, and state Sen. Frank Morse, R-Albany, during its April 18, 2011 session. The resolution congratulates COMP-Northwest upon its creation and wishes the college success in the future.

Morse, in remarks to his Senate colleagues, praised the leadership of Western University of Health Sciences President Philip Pumerantz and Samaritan Health Services President and CEO Larry Mullins.

“This enterprise is a classic example of the presence of defined and compelling need, visionary leadership, outstanding management, and the ability of the private sector to accomplish great things,” Morse said.

COMP-Northwest is set to open on July 30, 2011 with a gala celebration and white coat ceremony for 100 new students. COMP-Northwest is the second medical school campus of the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, which is part of Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif. The 54,000-square-foot facility is on the 50-acre Samaritan Health Sciences Campus in Lebanon, Ore.

Morse’s hometown of Lebanon is a community that has struggled to find its place following the demise of the timber industry, but it is a can-do community that has welcomed the new medical school in every way, he said.

“Mr. President and colleagues, let us welcome Western University of Health Sciences to Oregon,” Morse said. “(COMP-Northwest) will provide the doctors our state needs to serve our families for generations to come. Truly in the spirit of Samaritan Health’s vision, which is ‘Building healthier communities together,’ and WesternU’s vision, ‘To teach, to heal, together,’ a partnership has been formed, and Oregon truly is the beneficiary.”

Dr. Bates, who earned his DO degree from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences – College of Osteopathic Medicine, said COMP-Northwest students will primarily come from the Northwest, and many are expected to stay and practice in the Northwest. This is the first new medical school in Oregon in more than 100 years, while the state’s population has quadrupled in that time.

“The shortage of primary care physicians in the state is acute, and as we move to transformation and we move towards a primary care home for our patients, and as we move towards a broader approach to our patients and team support for those patients, this school will be a key to it,” Dr. Bates said.

The Senate Resolution is the latest example of the overwhelming community support received by COMP-Northwest.

“We are honored to receive support from the Oregon State Senate,” said COMP-Northwest Executive Associate Dean Paula Crone, DO. “We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of excitement and interest from residents, business owners, health care professionals, and many others throughout the state.”

As Oregon faces an increasing need for physicians, specifically in rural areas and in primary care, the development of COMP-Northwest is very timely as osteopathic physicians have a proud history of serving in primary care fields, said David Walls, director of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of Oregon Inc. More than 60 percent of osteopathic physicians in Oregon serve in primary care fields, he said. While DOs make up about 6.5 percent of the physician population in Oregon, they represent about 15 percent of the family practice physicians in the state.

“It’s a thrill to see the Oregon Senate welcome the new school and the contribution it will make to the state,” Walls said. “As our state looks at ways to increase the primary care workforce in Oregon and transform how we deliver care, I’m pleased to know that COMP-Northwest will be a willing partner with the state and excited to see their contribution in teaching our future physicians. The students entering COMP-Northwest this year will likely be entering a vastly different health care system when they complete their residency. COMP-Northwest is well poised to be a part of that transformation and a leader in training the next generation of physicians to provide the highest quality patient care.”