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Tower Health, Drexel University to build medical school branch in Berks

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Tower Health's Reading HealthPlex in West Reading (Contributed)
Tower Health's Reading HealthPlex in West Reading (Contributed)

Tower Health and Drexel University announced this morning plans to build a medical school branch campus near Reading Hospital in West Reading.

With more than 1,000 students, Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia is one of the largest private medical schools in the country.

The branch campus is anticipated to be open for the 2020-2021 school year, pending accreditation approvals. Tower Health is evaluating sites for the branch campus, but a final site has not been identified.

Several hundred students would be admitted to the branch campus in Berks.

The affiliation between Tower Health and Drexel leverages the reputation of Drexel’s medical school and Tower Health’s quality of care as a provider and payer, Clint Matthews, president and CEO, Tower Health, said in a statement.

“This innovative collaboration also addresses the challenge of an increased demand for highly trained physicians and will provide a positive economic impact to the Berks County region,” Matthews said.

John Fry, president of Drexel, said the collaboration would expand opportunities for medical training in the region, which will benefit practitioners and patients.

“We are very excited about this new collaboration, which offers our students a great opportunity to train with excellent physicians at a top-quality facility,” Dr. Daniel V. Schidlow, dean of Drexel College of Medicine, said in a statement.

Drexel University College of Medicine was created in 2002 when two historic medical schools combined, Hahnemann University (founded in 1848) and Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (founded in 1850), later MCP of Pennsylvania.

The medical school’s main campus is in the East Falls section of Philadelphia and has additional facilities in Center City next to Hahnemann University Hospital. Its pediatrics department is at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, and its psychiatry department is based at Friends Hospital, both in Philadelphia.

In October, Tower Health System, formerly known as Reading Health System, bought five acute care hospitals in southeastern Pennsylvania from Community Health Systems for $418 million.

In the Greater Lehigh Valley, two other health networks have partnered with medical schools since 2011. St. Luke’s University Health Network has a Temple University Medical School branch and Lehigh Valley Health Network has a regional clinical campus of the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine.

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