The facility is planned for a 7.25-acre plot west of San Manuel Stadium and east of the 215 Freeway, and is part of a partnership with the city and San Bernardino City Unified School District trumpeted as a step toward improving health, education and economic situations in San Bernardino.
"The idea of this operation, the San Bernardino campus, is both to provide expanded clinical coverage for San Bernardino residents and beyond, and also to use that population then as a training ground for many young career (students)," said Richard Hart, president of the university. "All the pieces have come together."
Expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act and factors specific to Loma Linda University are projected to increase the number of visits to the Social Action Community Health System Clinic from 30,000 to 200,000 per year by 2014, Hart said.
The center's operations will be funded without outside help, but construction will take about $50 million to $60 million and require some private donations, Hart said.
"We're serious about going ahead," he said, projecting about 18 months of construction. "We don't have all the financing lined up, but we believe it will happen."
For San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris,
"That'll bring new life to downtown," he said. "It's really a very important part of our longterm plan to revitalize our downtown around these new transit assets that we're embedding."
Those public transportation options include the SBX bus rapid transit line, which will run from the main Loma Linda University campus to Cal State San Bernardino, passing by the planned clinic.
"Our clients, our nurses, our providers can all arrive without the need for the automobile, because we connect right to the university campus through our SBX system," Morris said. "They can leave the campus and their responsibilities there, and within 10 minutes can be there to teach or receive care. That's exactly what we had in mind when we started down this road."
Morris envisions businesses clustered around the medical center and other stops on the bus line, as has happened in other cities that built such lines.
Some members of the San Bernardino City Council objected to disruption caused by the bus line's construction and its costs, which were almost entirely paid by agencies other than the city but which they say still were a drag on the city.
For the school district, though, the campus - offering six- to 12-month courses to become medical assistants, nursing assistants or similar professions - will unquestionably be a great asset, said Superintendent Dale Marsden.
Internships and classes for high school juniors and seniors are just two immediately apparent advantages, said Marsden, who brought much of his senior staff and several school board members to develop a plan with Hart and his staff.
"It's just one of those things that fits very well with our strategic journey," Marsden said. "Loma Linda (University) has been a real active partner in that mission to rebuild, and this gateway college will be a great benefit not only to our students but to our whole community."
Reach Ryan via email, find him on Twitter @SBcityNow, or call him at 909-386-3916.