KGI receives $5 million grant for future medical school

Three apartment buildings surrounded by a fence are behind a lampost with a "KGI" poster.
KGI receives a $5 million grant for its future medical school from the L.A. Care Health Plan, the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan. (Anna Choi • The Student Life)

Keck Graduate Institute received a $5 million grant for the future KGI School of Medicine from L.A. Care Health Plan, a healthcare provider to more than 2 million vulnerable and low-income residents, the school said in an Oct. 5 press release.

In July 2018, KGI announced that it would establish a medical school “to meet the increasing demand for primary care physicians in Southern California.” Currently, Los Angeles county falls below the level of primary care doctors recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to a Los Angeles Business Journal review of federal healthcare data.

The grant is part of L.A. Care’s Elevating the Safety Net initiative, which aims to provide a “pipeline for physicians into the Los Angeles County safety net — those practices and clinics that offer care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay,” Kelly Esperias, KGI’s vice president of institutional development and partnerships, told TSL via email.

KGI’s admissions process for the new medical school will recruit local students “passionate about improving the health of the region’s residents” and who reflect the county’s demographics, according to a press release from L.A. Care. KGI will also accept students from “non-traditional pre-medical programs.”

“Research has shown that who we recruit, where we recruit them from, and how and where we train them is critical in getting doctors to practice care in the communities that need them the most,” said Dr. David Lawrence, dean of the KGI School of Medicine, in the press release.

KGI sought to raise $50 million for the medical school as part of a three-tier fundraising process announced March 2019, and the school is currently 25 percent toward that goal and has passed phase one, Esperias said.

“The pandemic has impacted operations and in-person meeting opportunities, but that hasn’t hindered the progress of the medical school moving forward,” Esperias said.  

Esperias could not provide the “exact opening date” for the school because of uncertainty related to the school’s future accreditation process, but she expects the school “to gain [its] applicant status within the next couple of years.”

Dr. Richard Seidman, the chief medical officer at L.A. Care, joined the board of governors at the KGI School of Medicine, the press release announced.

“It’s exciting to be part of such an innovative program strategically designed to recruit and train a diverse group of students from communities underrepresented in medicine to increase the diversity of the healthcare workforce,” Seidman said.

KGI intends to use the grant to “facilitate the establishment, accreditation and opening of the KGI School of Medicine,” Esperias said. More specifically, the grant will be used to support faculty and develop a curriculum.

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