Funding Pool To Attract Physicians Grows

Five foundations have donated money to use toward recruiting physicians.

Lillian Vitanza Ney, Health Care Action Team committee chairwoman, said they have received grants from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Holmberg Foundation, Johnson Foundation, Lenna Foundation and Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation. The Health Care Action Team has been working to raise money to used toward incentives for physicians to practice medicine and live in the Jamestown area.

The Health Care Action Team is a working group of the Strategic Planning and Partnerships Commission, and was formed to focus on the impact of health care on development in the community, as well as accessible, high-quality health care for residents. The group has been working toward raising money to offer more of a recruitment incentive to physicians who move to Jamestown to work in the area. The previous incentive was $10,000, but now the group wants to offer $20,000 to $50,000 based on the physician’s area of expertise. The money would be used toward signing and retention bonuses, and loan replacement payments.

”The committee is extremely gratified by the recognition of our work by the foundations,” Ney said. ”We are working hard to facilitate physicians to our area. It is a blessing to have this encouragement.”

Ney said she estimates an additional six physicians could be recruited with the grant money received. The action team has been working on recruiting doctors for local medical organizations for the past two years. In that time, they have helped to recruit six physicians.

”This is the most we’ve been able to incentivize since the beginning of our work,” she said about the grants received since March.

Ney said the action team has been concentrating on a ”growing our own” program in recruiting physicians to return to their hometown after receiving their education and training. She said some of the local people are still in college, medical school or receiving their postgraduate training through a residency program.

”We want to encourage people from Jamestown in the pipeline for medicine to come back to the area to practice here,” she said. ”We are following many folks. I would say in the hundreds.”

Ney said people in the community are coming forward with names of family members and relatives that they know who are studying medicine. Ney said the discussions with community members has been very helpful in knowing the names of people to possibly recruit back to Jamestown.

”I’m convinced it takes a community to recruit a physician,” she said paralleling the phrase, ”It takes a village to raise a child.”

Ney said the action team is hoping to recruit two more physicians this summer at minimum. She said the need for physicians is becoming greater with retirements and doctors leaving the area. She said it is difficult to recruit physicians because of the need for doctors throughout the state. Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, said the shortage of doctors, and mainly the lack of primary care physicians, is one of the biggest health care problems in the state and the nation.

”Communities are rallying everywhere to offer good incentive packages to new physicians,” Ney said.

The criteria for applying for a recruitment grant is the physician has to be working and living in the Jamestown area, and their field of concentration is an area of need. The group’s priority list includes primary care physicians at No. 1. 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.

”It is not given (recruitment incentive grant) before they come. They already have to be in practice, have a signed contract and be credentialed by the hospital,” she said. ”That way we are sure they are really here. We have to know they are here and working, and living in the area.”