New medical task force looks to draw more patients to Columbia

Related Story

COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia announced the formation of the city's first Mayor's Task Force on Medical Tourism on Monday morning.

Medical tourism is the term used to describe when people travel outside of their place of residence for the purpose of receiving medical treatment.

Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said the creation of the task force comes as a community effort to position Columbia as a destination medical center for patients across the country.

The 8 person task force will consist of the following individuals:

  • Guy Collier - Nonprofit hospitals and health systems attorney 
  • Jonathan W. Curtwright - Chief Operating Officer of the University of Missouri Health care
  • Kate Pitzer - In-house legal counsel for Boone Hospital
  • Vivek Puri - Vice president and general counsel of Hilton Garden Inn and the Holiday Inn Express in Columbia
  • Gene Austin - CEO of Columbia Orthopedic Group
  • David Parmely - Owner of the Hampton Inn & Suites at the University of Missouri and the Broadway Hotel, Double Tree by Hilton
  • James Cook, DVM, Ph.D - Director of Operations for the Mizzou BioJoint Center
  • Dr. Kevin Staveley O'Carroll - Director of Ellis Fischel Cancer Center

According to Treece, the press conference was the first time the entire task force was in the same room together, which he said he found interesting.

" I think that's interesting, that our region and certainly our city has never brought our competing health care providers together and asked how can we do things better.

The task force has not yet scheduled a date for their first official meeting; however, Treece expects it to take place within the next month to identify any needs for work groups or sub committees. 

According to Treece no tax payer money will be used to fund the task force, citing that everyone involved with the task force is in fact donating their time to serve.

The task force will also consist of assistance from the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

CVB Marketing and Communications Manager Megan McConachie said the bureau plans to offer a variety of resources to the task force.

"As a city department we will be providing staff liaison and of course our tourism experties to that task force," McConachie said.

McConachie said she sees medical tourism as being a great addition to the city.

"We focus on lots of different types of tourism here, and so adding medical tourism to that lineup is a really great opportunity for this city," McConachie said.

McConachie describes the city as "unexpected," and said she hopes the patients who do make the journey to Columbia will be pleasantly surprised.

"Columbia is of course a college town, but every time we have people come in, you know, they always thinks it's a specific thing and they find it to be so much more than what they expected," she said.