Our Opinion: The Commonwealth Medical College offers cures for what ails region

October 6th, 2015 11:15 pm

As hoped, the region’s young medical school appears to be doing more than prepping new doctors to comfort and cure us.

The Commonwealth Medical College also pumps plenty of cash and volunteer support into the communities it serves across Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, helping to resuscitate lagging economies, a new report states. The analysis released publicly last week pegged TCMC’s total contribution during its 2014 fiscal year at about $65 million.

As with any economic impact report, the one regarding this health-focused organization based in Scranton, with regional campuses in Wilkes-Barre and elsewhere, probably should be taken with a grain of salt. Make that, a grain of reduced-sodium salt.

By using “multipliers,” analysts routinely prop up “direct impacts” with “indirect impacts” and seemingly can make almost any activity, from bass fishing to bocce, look critical to the nation’s GDP. One notable exception in our experience: the state’s Keystone Opportunity Zone Program, which by most independent accounts is a dog at job creation. But that’s another editorial.

In its executive summary, the report on TCMC practically glows with the radiance of an expectant mother (who is getting the prescribed amount of prenatal care, of course). The document states, “The medical school has served as the catalyst for a revitalization of the entire region, and the positive impacts generated by TCMC will continue to increase in the future …”

That description of its early accomplishments is over the top and unlikely to fool federal and state lawmakers who, no doubt, will be presented with the impact report when medical college officials seek further government aid.

But that’s not to say we aren’t wholeheartedly enthusiastic about The Commonwealth Medical College’s presence here and its enormous potential in the years to come. In fact, in an editorial last October titled “Med school’s vital signs improving,” we referred to TCMC as “arguably among the best things to happen to Northeastern Pennsylvania since the arrival of Interstate 81.”

The college will, over time, create a pool of local physicians, helping to solve this region’s doc shortage.

TCMC, likewise, can become a key employer in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties, acting as a stabilizing force during economic downturns. And, its faculty and alumni could very well make exciting, life-enhancing contributions in the world of medicine.

That said, we have a forward-looking question for the region’s educational and civic leaders.

When can we expect the opening in Northeastern Pennsylvania of a law school?