Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rural doctors need to support recruitment of more colleagues, former Leitchfield hospital administrator writes

With Kentucky's doctor shortage about to be exacerbated by expansion of the Medicaid program and federally subsidized health insurance, there will be more competition than ever to recruit physicians, especially to rural communities. Some doctors resist such recruitment, but they are short-sighted, writes Stephen Meredith, former chief executive officer of Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center in Leitchfield.

Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center
"When I became CEO of TLRMC in 1983 our local hospital had seven doctors on its medical staff, so the first order of business was the recruitment of additional physicians, or so I thought. When this idea was presented to the collective medical staff it with was met with a resounding 'NO.' The medical staff’s concern was recruitment would hurt them financially by further 'dividing the pie' of a finite number of patients," Meredith writes for The Record in Leitchfield.

But many more doctors were recruited (now more than 30), and the old doctors realized it was a good thing, Meredith writes: "Two of the more vocal physicians against recruitment later acknowledged the addition of more physicians, especially specialists, made their own practices even busier than before. In defense of these men, they were so busy seeing patients in their practices, they had to believe they were seeing everyone who possibly needed medical care. However, they had no idea how many people were leaving our community for health care because of the shortage of physicians."

The phenomenon extends to other lines of work, Meredith notes: "What occurred within our medical community was recognized and theorized by John Nash as the theory of economic equilibrium for which he won the 1994 Nobel Prize in economics. His theory, in essence, is when we all work together for everyone’s mutual benefit rather than just our own, in the long-run, everyone benefits by expanding the 'size of the pie.' No one wins when it comes at the expense of others, but everyone wins when we take a broader view of our community and purposefully commit to pursuing initiatives which leave no one behind. After all, we are all in this together." (Read more)

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