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Sam Houston State highlights new medical campus in Conroe



HOUSTON, TX – Sam Houston State University officials are working with Conroe leaders to highlight the school’s new medical campus.

A new medical campus is a worthy accomplishment for any city council to brag about and members of the Conroe City Council were eager to do just that while extending what help they could in making the school a success while touring the new SHSU osteopathic medical campus in Conroe.

The campus welcomed its first class of 75 students last fall and will be accepting another 112 this coming August. Opening a new campus in the midst of a pandemic was no small feat but with rigorous COVID-19 precautions, the school administration reports that there has been no on-campus spread of the virus.

Now, school officials are looking to the future and have plans to work with the city council on several initiatives.

Former Conroe Mayor Tommy Metcalf organized Tuesday’s tour of the campus with current mayor Jody Czajkoski, and current council members Todd Yancey, Curt Maddux, and Mayor Pro Tem Raymond McDonald to show them what an asset he believes the campus is to Conroe.

“Everybody is enthusiastic about the college of medicine being here in Conroe and leadership on both sides — the college of medicine and also on City Council — want to create this to be a wonderful partnership together,” Metcalf said.

Several years ago, Metcalf said he received a phone call from Dana Hoyt, the president of SHSU at the time, who wanted to meet to talk about the university opening a college of medicine in Conroe.

“I told her I thought it was a brilliant idea,” he said, suggesting the former Boy Scouts camp off of Interstate 45 as the location.

Now, several years later, the only thing the state-of-the-art campus is missing is the lobby mural that will be created by a Canadian artist when it is safe for them to travel to Texas to complete it.

The four-story building includes a 160-seat theater classroom with six presentation screens, multiple large convertible classrooms to be used as necessary, a simulation hospital where students get hands-on practice with medical actors and realistic medical dummies as patients, an operation room, a cadaver lab, a fully-stocked student lounge, dozens of study rooms, and lockers for student’s to keep their personal belongings.

Following the tour, the city council members sat down with the school’s deans to discuss future opportunities to work together. Together, the group of school officials and city officials found several areas they could work together on.

Recently the city purchased the former Conroe YMCA building, which the campus had planned on partnering with to offer students a place to work on their physical health. The city plans to turn the space into its own recreational facility with programs that will complement what the YMCA was offering and offered to work with SHSU to create access for students.

Currently, SHSU is operating a clinic here in Conroe that opened last November, but the university is having difficulty spreading the word about it and finding new patients. The pandemic has made this even more difficult. Czajkoski offered the resources of his own offices to help spread the word and alert the community to the new clinic.

As COVID-19 continues to impact the nation, SHSU offered their medical experts as resources for Conroe to utilize and consult with. The university has maintained strict masking and social distancing guidelines on campus but plans to loosen these protocols next year.

“I think all it’s going to take is communication on both sides saying ‘What can we do to make this combination better?’” Metcalf told the gathered group. “So, I, as a citizen of Conroe, really feel good about it.”