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12 doctors from USF headed to Puerto Rico to aid relief efforts

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A dozen doctors from the University of South Florida (USF) will do their part to aid Puerto Rico in its time of crisis following Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact on the island twelve days ago.

School officials announced Monday the team of USF Health doctors will travel to Puerto Rico to provide medical care. They have agreed to allow more than 200 Puerto Rican medical students to complete their current semester in Tampa.

USF was contacted by Ponce Health Sciences University about allowing 85 first-year medical students, 85 second-year students and 70 master’s students studying health sciences to finish their education in Tampa. If USF’s offer is approved by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the accreditation organization shared by the two schools, 240 students, as well as supporting faculty, staff and administrators could arrive later this month and remain in Tampa through at least December.

“We’re proud that our outstanding Morsani College of Medicine was contacted and we are pleased that we can be of assistance to our neighbors in Puerto Rico,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft. “Our top-notch faculty can ensure that the medical students from Puerto Rico can have a quality experience at USF. We appreciate the opportunity to provide resources and personnel to those who have been impacted by the recent storms.”

“We greatly appreciate the support Dr. Genshaft and Dr. Lockwood have offered to our medical students. We look forward to working with them to finalize our decision to move to Tampa this week,” said Dr. Olga Rodriguez de Arzola, dean of medicine at Ponce Health Sciences University.

The team of 12 internal medicine and pediatric doctors flying to Puerto Rico this week will stay there for at least the next two weeks, providing support at various medical facilities across the island.

“For USF Health, making life better isn’t just a slogan, it’s a way of life. Today, Dr. Genshaft authorized, and I directed, members of our medical faculty to join the relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Our physicians, who are already well-versed in international disaster response will be in Puerto Rico this week,” said Dr. Charles J. Lockwood, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

Last Friday, the USF System also announced that all out-of-state fees will be waived for students enrolled in the fall 2017 or spring 2018 semesters whose permanent residence is located in either Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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