This is just one of the reasons why the entire southwestern part of Florida is considered “insufficient medical services” due to the lack of primary care physicians.
It’s been this way for years, and at that speed we go, Florida is projected By 2030, there will be the second largest shortage of doctors in the country.
Lee County had a technically high number of primary care physicians per 100,000 pre-pandemic, according to the latest data from Lee Health’s Community Health Needs Assessment, which was built up next to the state and country. But add that the population is also aging and supply is not meeting demand.
Karen Smiley and her husband moved to Cape Coral three years ago.
“I called at the end of September,” Smiley said. “They told me it would take six months to get the promise. By that time I said I might die.”
She called and finally found a doctor to meet her, but it still took three months. She says she felt she had to endanger her health because of this.
“I did that when I started looking for a doctor, and when I found some health problems, it was like crazy,” Smiley said.
The US Department of Health has designated almost all southwestern Florida as “areas with poor medical services” or MUAs.that is 100% of households from Punta Guda to Marco Island It is defined as “too few primary care providers, high infant mortality, high poverty, or a large elderly population.”
“It’s terrible to set up a doctor here, and I’m sure everyone else has the same problem moving here,” Smiley said. “I think it just gets worse before it gets better.”
Dr. Larry Antonucci, president of Lee Health, said the national doctor shortage could be exacerbated.
“For years there was an imbalance,” said Antonucci.
But he says they plan to bring in doctors as soon as possible and hire 100 people this year alone.
“As the number of medical schools has increased, the number of residents has not increased. So many young men and women will attend medical schools, but then they will leave the state to settle in. “Antonucci said.
In 2014, Lee Health partnered with Florida State University to train and maintain doctors here to practice family medicine. Since then, Antonucci says about half have stayed in Lee County.
Next year, Lee Health will launch an internal medicine program at Cape Coral, training 12 new doctors annually.
“We are doing a lot to bring doctors to the community,” said Antonucci. “It’s a great community to live in. It’s a great community to practice in. And we’re doing everything we can to improve access.”
In Collier County, the Neighborhood Health Clinic is also trying to fill that gap.
“We’re like your last destination,” said CEO Leslie Rashite. “If you come to our door and sit on our steps, it’s because you’re in the safety net of the safety net right now.”
Clinics serve low-income working adults (mostly in the service industry) without insurance that deviates from the standards of government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.
According to Rashite, there are about 50,000 people in Collier.
“Today, not all 50,000 people need us. Thank you for the good, but we are here for them,” Rashite said.
The clinic has more than 250 volunteer doctors across several medical disciplines and specializes in the management of chronic illnesses.
“I have a heavy tray, so I might say that I get in and have a pain in my shoulder, but when I look at them, I find that I have high blood pressure and diabetes,” says Rashite. “You know how important the medicine, food, exercise and education parts are, and how important they are. Imagine trying to navigate them without help or medical facilities. Do you want? “
Organizations that are fully funded by personal donations are growing. Rashite says they remove some weight from the emergency room, where their services are overwhelmed.
“If we can bear this burden, it will be better for all communities, the more people who don’t know where to get medical care will be led here,” said Rashite.
Smiley will soon exchange her private insurance for Medicare, but since she was founded, it’s not too hard to get a promise anymore.
“I think we need a qualified doctor around here, and another hospital in Cape Coral.”
Dr. Antonucci tells me that Lee Health is advocating improvements in telemedicine, which regularly Evaluate what the community needs It works to figure out which areas are not well serviced and to open clinics there.
The federal government also sought to encourage physicians to choose primary care through scholarships and loan repayments. Over the last decade, Medicare reimbursement for primary care has also increased and decreased for high-paying professionals.
Few primary care physicians and older people leave SWFLs “not well-served medically”
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