CARBONDALE - Many people are aware that Southern Illinois University operates a prestigious medical school, but it's not the only teaching institute for aspiring physicians with a connection to Carbondale.
For the past few years, the Royal Plaza Inn on the city's west side has served as a classroom for hun-dreds of international medical students seeking to practice medicine in the United States.
Students come to the inn to take part in an intensive review before taking the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam, according to Srinivas Gaddam of Royal Medical & Technical Consultants, Inc., the Monee-based company that contracts with medical schools, most of them located in the Caribbean, to provide the review.
"We contract with several medical schools to do seminars for their students on how to prepare for the examination and teach them about licensing procedures," Gaddam said.
Seminars can be two weeks to 12 to 16 weeks in duration and are available in Carbondale as well as other locations the company contracts with to provide student lodging and conference rooms for the seminars, he said.
The majority of students come to Carbondale from Windsor University School of Medicine located in St. Kitts, West Indies. The university's website lists Gaddam as president, while published reports list him as Windsor's owner, giving him another link to the Carbondale operation.
The review course is mandatory for Windsor students, according to the university's website. But while mandatory, the review is not part of the Windsor MD program and does not lead to any credits, certifications or degrees, Gaddam said.
All students must stay in the "three star luxury hotel" lodging provided, according to the Windsor website. In Carbondale, RMTC contracts with the Royal Plaza Inn, a hotel that has Gaddam as one of its investors, he said.
"I serve on the board of RMTC, am one of the investors in the hotel, and I am on the board of directors of Windsor," he said.
Students pay a base price of $690 for a single rental, according to the website. And while unsubstantiated chat on Internet message boards claim the hotel is not exactly three-star, the Royal Plaza Inn has consistently received the city's stamp of approval, Carbondale Assistant City Manager for Economic Development Kevin Baity said.
"We do inspect and license it," he said.
The hotel has undergone extensive renovation since it was purchased by Gaddam in 2004, Baity said.
"It's all been inspected and is up to code. Everything there was given the green light except for the pool and it's my understanding they are cleaning that up now," Baity said.
Doughnuts, meals, movies
Rumors about the review course abound, Gaddam said.
"People have wrong conceptions. We are not a medical school, we are not a college," he said. "RMTC leases the premises, the hotel rooms and conference rooms. We bring in speakers from all different cities and run the seminars."
The inn, RMTC and Windsor University are just a few of many ventures associated with Gaddam, who also owns Doctor Donuts and Firehouse Grill & Diner at the Carbondale hotel complex.
Gaddam is also listed as CEO of Bollywood Campus Film Productions, an independent film company.