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New medical school planned for Yakima

YAKIMA - Retired Sunnyside physician Dr. Lloyd Butler hasn't been resting on his laurels since giving up his family practice. The Grandview native has been instrumental in the formation of the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, which announced yesterday it is opening a new medical school in Yakima.

"It will be a school of osteopathic medicine," Butler said Thursday. "We'll be serving the five Northwest states."

Butler, who is serving as the vice president of the Pacific Northwest Univesity of Health Sciences, said the plan is to have medical students in class by September 2007.

Although a site for the medical school hasn't yet been finalized, Butler said it will definitely be located in Yakima. He said he and his associates want to build an 80,000-square foot campus.

The newly formed osteopathic group wants to serve approximately 100 new medical students annually. Graduates, he said, will receive a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree, then move on to residency training as fully licensed physicians.

Butler said he and his associates recently attended a large gathering of Pacific Northwest osteopathic physicians, and received their endorsement to proceed with plans to build a new medical school.

Sunnyside Community Hospital will most likely figure in to those plans. The local hospital already has a program in place that allows newly trained osteopathic physicians to work with established practitioners.

Yakima's Dr. Greg Mick, D.O., the president of the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, said his group is proud to be in a position of training much needed physicians.

"Our university will provide aspiring doctors an excellent opportunity to study cutting edge medicine," said Mick. "Our team is committed to quality. We will recruit an outstanding faculty, and accept truly qualified and dedicated students."

Currently, the closest osteopathic medical school is in California. There are 22 osteopathic medical schools nationwide.

Osteopathic medicine emphasizes the relationship of the body's nerves, muscles, bones and organs in applying a philosophy of treating the whole person.

From a financial standpoint, the newly formed osteopathic team is attempting to raise $20 million to support the new facility. Mick said $3 million in commitments has already been secured.

"We have a big job to do in terms of raising funds for this institution," said Butler. "At the same time, our team is very optimistic. We received unanimous support from all five Northwest states at our professional conference last week."

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