Health Center Today, June 8, 2011
Bioscience Connecticut Proposal Wins Final Legislative Approval
By Carolyn Pennington
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposal to bring a much-needed economic boost to the state and renovate and expand the Health Center passed the House early Wednesday morning. The plan, called Bioscience Connecticut, was approved 97 to 45 after passing the Senate on June 1. The measure now goes to the governor for his signature.
Supporters of the bill say it is an urgently needed economic development plan that would create thousands of jobs while making the state a leader in bioscience research.
"This is about creating new jobs, sustained economic development, and staking out the ground that will again make Connecticut a leader in an emerging industry," Malloy said in a statement issued by his office after the vote. "In my opinion, it's a win-win. More than that, it sends a clear message and plants a very firm flag in terms of Connecticut's commitment to being a leader in the bioscience industry. The state's flagship public university and its Health Center must be looked at as more than just a school or just a hospital - we need to view them as economic drivers and ways in which we can leverage our education system into long-term, sustained economic growth. I look forward to signing this bill into law and embarking upon this new project to help put people back to work."
The measure is estimated to cost $864 million and will help fund construction of a new patient tower, a parking garage and outpatient center. John Dempsey Hospital and the original research building will be renovated. The plan will also expand small business incubator space to foster new business start-ups.
The plan is expected to create 3,000 new construction jobs annually for six years when the entire project would be completed in 2018.
"This is not only one of the most important milestones in the history of the UConn Health Center, but of the entire University as well," says UConn President Susan Herbst. "Thanks to Governor Malloy’s plan, the full potential of our integrated academic medical center will be harnessed to vastly expand bioscience research, create lasting and sustainable job growth and meet the future healthcare needs of our region and state."
To address the growing shortage of physicians and dentists, the initiative increases the size of the medical school by adding 100 students and 48 students to the dental school classes and establishes a loan forgiveness program for students who pursue primary care careers in Connecticut.
It will be paid for with $254 million in new bonding, $338 million in previously approved bonding and $69 million from the Health Center. Construction of the outpatient center would be funded by $203 million in private financing.
"From this point forward, we will be on a fast-track to catalyze all elements of Bioscience Connecticut," says Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, vice president for health affairs and medical school dean. "We know we can rely on our faculty, staff and students to continue to provide insights, direction and complete commitment to this transformative plan."