By Marlee Ginter

ELK GROVE (CBS13) — The need for more hospitals and health care workers may be greater than ever right now.

Plans for a new medical center in Elk Grove couldn’t be more welcome news.

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Medical student Vincent Ma studies with his headphones on, his books open and planted right in front of his computer. But study time won’t always look like this as California Northstate University reaches the final stretch in getting its new medical center and teaching hospital up and running.

“I’m excited about the hospital because it’s a chance for us to work directly with the community that we’re serving,” said Ma.

CBS13 has been following the hospital’s progress for the past several years, but it couldn’t come at a more urgent time with the pandemic pushing hospital space to capacity and stretching health care workers thin.

“The epidemic has really tested everyone. We’re way behind the eight-ball,” said Dr. Joseph Silva.

Dr. Silva is the Dean of CNSU’s College of Medicine.  He says hundreds of students will get hands-on training in what will be Elk Grove’s first hospital.

“If we train more physicians, they’re more likely to settle in the area where they train and that was in the spirit that California Northstate decided to develop this program,” Dr. Silva told CBS13.

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“Because there is no real hospital in Elk Grove, if you have a heart attack, a car accident or a stroke, guess what? You have to leave town to get to the emergency room,” said CNSU spokesperson Brian Holloway.

“For us as medical students, it gives us a lot of opportunities for training and getting to interact with the community,” said Ma.

The new facility could be up by 2022 and doling out more doctors in an area that needs it.

“You know, giving the students a chance to work with their own community, that’s huge. And they’re going to stay here I’m sure and keep doing good work,” said Ma.

CNSU is meeting with the Elk Grove Planning Commission next month.  The goal is to have the medical center up and running by late 2022.

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Then you’ll see a 250-bed facility right next to the existing campus and College of Medicine right off Interstate 5.