Recruiting Physicians A Priority For City

Primary care physicians are No. 1 on the recruitment priority list for Jamestown.

That is what the Jamestown Strategic Planning and Partnerships Commission’s Health Care Action Team has determined. Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney, Health Care Action Team chairwoman, said the group set its priority list at the end of 2013, with primary care physicians topping the recruitment agenda. Orthopedics was second on the list, with neurology and neurosurgery, which should be connected to an academic center, third and fourth on the list, respectively. Ophthalmology, ear, nose and throat and obstetrics and gynecology rounded out the list. The team also made a priority recruitment list for specialty gaps, which included infectious disease; rheumatology; pulmonology; endocrinology; and dermatology.

Ney said the group is now working toward raising money to offer more of a recruitment incentive to physicians to come work in the area. She said the previous incentive was $10,000, but now they want to offer $20,000 to $50,000 based on the physician’s area of expertise. On Wednesday, the action team will host a special meeting with area foundation representatives at the Robert H. Jackson Center, 305 E. Fourth St., Jamestown, to collect funding for the recruitment grants.

“If we can get a grant that is significant, we will move toward loan replacement too,” she said.

Ney said physicians have huge loans to repay from their years of education. Between $200,000 to $250,000 is the amount some of these doctors owe.

“Some communities now are spending a lot of time on replacing the loan. For every year (the physician) stays, they get so much money toward their loan,” she said. “They will wipe it out. That is a powerful incentive.”

Ney said the group has learned recruiting locally is one of the best ways to get the physicians in need.

“We try to keep an eye on them to recruit them. If they have family here, the chances of them returning is half the battle,” she said. “Many of them want to come home.”

Ney said the action team has been working at recruiting doctors for local medical organizations for two years. In that time, they have helped to recruit six physicians.

The criteria for those eligible to apply for a recruitment grant includes the physician is working and living in the Jamestown area and their specialty is an area of need. The recruitment grant goes toward paying travel expenses for the physician; moving expenses; signing bonuses; paying firms to search for quality physicians; and other miscellaneous costs like advertising, renovating office space and malpractice insurance.

“The cost is high. The competition is very keen,” she said. “Other communities are really desperate, as we are, for more physicians.”