Clearwater medical school benefactor ponders construction of student housing in Safety Harbor

Work continues on Nova Southeastern University’s new medical campus in Clearwater.

CLEARWATER — The man who donated cash and land to build Nova Southeastern University’s new medical campus in Clearwater said he might build housing in Safety Harbor for hundreds of the university’s students.

That would put students close enough to bicycle to the campus on the western end of the Courtney Campbell Causeway, said Dr. Kiran C. Patel, the Tampa-area cardiologist who, along with his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel, donated $225 million for the creation of the Clearwater medical campus.

“It’s an ideal location,” Patel said of Safety Harbor during a May 15 press tour of the campus, which is slated to open by fall. “We have 30-plus acres in Safety Harbor, and one could bicycle here on the back roads. The beauty of this location is the rustic rural environment.”

He cited Clearwater’s beaches and performing arts as a draw for students from around the world.

In the meantime, George Hanbury, NSU president and chief executive, said the campus will seek out local apartment complexes to provide student housing for the fall.

“We will be taking advantage of existing apartment complexes in the Clearwater area for our students that are coming from out of the area,” Hanbury said. “They will be looking for housing.”

The university, which has a main campus in Davie, has created an Off-Campus Housing Services office to provide students, faculty and staff with apartment listings near the Clearwater campus. It also helps students find roommates, buy or rent homes, townhomes and apartments, and obtain other living quarters.

The new campus hopes to register 150 students this fall in various medical degree programs, such as bachelor’s candidates in cardiovascular sonography and advanced practice registered nursing and doctor of occupational therapy and physical therapy.

When the Clearwater campus opens, it will have training emergency rooms, virtual reality operating theaters, a physical therapy training center and a host of high-tech teaching tools.

NSU’s Tampa Bay Regional Campus comprises 27 acres and 325,000 square feet of classrooms, faculty offices, a dining hall and other amenities, said university officials. The multi-level parking garage behind the sweeping, green-glass architecture of the main building has parking for some 1,300 vehicles.

The university hopes to recruit Clearwater-area middle and high school students interested in medical degrees, Hanbury said. The university’s dual-admissions program guarantees Clearwater high school students a path to NSU grad school.

“Bright Clearwater high school students who maintain high grades in NSU undergraduate business, education, or psychology programs are guaranteed a spot in NSU graduate programs,” he said.

The medical school offers scholarships for its physician’s assistant and occupational therapy programs and will offer more grants and scholarships as its endowment grows, Hanbury said.

“We’ve come in and already established roots in the community, because our concept is to build on community,” said Elaine M. Wallace, dean of the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“We began meeting with many physicians in the area and have already developed a relationship with the St. Petersburg College,” Wallace said. “SPC will be where our cadavers are located for our cadaver laboratories, establishing an articulation agreement with them now so there will be ease for those students coming into this area. We’ve begun a middle school program in Pinellas County.”

NSU is also in talks with health centers and doctor’s offices to help train medical students.

“We will be using the community health centers in Clearwater, Pinellas and Hillsborough where we’ll be training our students,” Wallace said. “We’ve already established roots in the community, because our concept is to build on community.”