Sibley East school

The former Sibley East Public Schools' facility in Gaylord would be the site of a new medical college. File photo

GAYLORD — A medical school spearheaded by a local banker has been in the works for more than two years and though it is set to open next year, local officials haven’t heard much. 

The Minnesota College of Osteopathic Medicine would be built inside the former Sibley East elementary school in Gaylord. The college is to train students to be fully fledged medical doctors but also provide them with osteopathic training, which involves manipulative techniques — using the hands to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury.

The man leading the effort for the college, Phil Keithahn, is the chairman of ProGrowth Bank, which has offices in Gaylord, Mankato and Nicollet. Keithann said he would have an update on the school’s progress within the next 10 days.

In the meantime, Sibley County Administrator Roxy Traxler said she hasn’t heard any news on the medical school since last fall.

The college needs housing for about 300 students, financial backers to fund its launch and accreditation from the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation for the doors to open, and it's a lengthy process. Keithahn said in November they’d had to submit hundreds of pages of information about the college’s plans to the accrediting body.

The commission will not provide information on colleges going through the accreditation process, said Sheridan Chaney, associate vice president of content and media at American Osteopathic Association. However, the commission is scheduled to meet this month for four days starting April 26. There are currently about 30 colleges of osteopathic medicine around the country. 

The housing issue came up at a meeting in March involving area community leaders and the Minnesota Housing Partnership Housing Institute. County commissioners from Brown, Nicollet and Sibley counties discussed rural housing problems with the partnership and the issue of housing in Gaylord came up as they talked about housing, said Nicollet County Commissioner Jack Kolars.  

“We’re all waiting til Phil gives us an update,” Traxler said.

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