With Southern Tier facing doctor shortage, federal legislation aims to curb decline

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Chemung County and the Southern Tier are facing a shortage of physicians.Take pediatricians for example, just one for about 1,600 people. That’s according to the Center for Health Workforce Studies.

New legislation, the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2017, in the United States Senate could help reverse that trend.

“Out of 62 counties (in New York) , we’re 57 for medical outcome,” Tom Santulli, the Chemung County Executive, said. “So we have a massive need here. One that we need to address and address quickly.”

Chemung County and the Southern Tier are part of an even bigger picture of physician shortages.

By the year 2030, the United States is expected hit a shortfall in doctors– roughly 100,000 doctors, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. 

“So we’re going to make a big fight in the upcoming year so that residents here in the Southern Tier,” U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York, said at a gathering with health physician residents at Arnot Ogden Medical Center, “will be able to say ‘the doctor is in, not somewhere else in another part in the country.'”

the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2017 is looking to tackle that issue and reverse the trend.

Over the next five years, 3,000 new slots to train new physicians enrolled in Graduate Medical Education programs would be created each year. It would create a total of 15,000 slots that would be funded by Medicare.

Senator Schumer said G.M.E. programs at Arnot Health and other small hospital networks would have top priority to those slots.

“I’m so aware that our rural hospitals and hospitals not in large metropolitan areas need special help,” Schumer said, “because citizens of the Southern Tier are every bit as entitled to good healthcare as people in New York City.”

The other focal point, trying to get those G.M.E. graduates to stay in the region.

Dr. Constantino Lambroussis may be a transplant in Elmira, but said he doesn’t plan on going back home any time soon. He is a 2014 G.M.E. graduate.

“I’m actually from New Jersey originally, but I actually love the area,” Lambroussis said. “Clean air, lovely people, fantastic institution.”

Arnot says 40 percent of its G.M.E. graduates work in its system and 65 percent of grads practice medicine in the region.

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