WILMINGTON – New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) and Southeast Area Health Education Center (SEAHEC) are collaborating to bring more family medicine physicians to the region. Their Family Medicine Residency Training program will add two resident physicians in each of the next five years, starting with the 2011 school year. The two additional physicians will bring the program’s total to six, helping expand access to primary medical care, particularly among poor and uninsured patients in Southeastern North Carolina.
The growth of the program is supported through an almost $1.8 million in grant funding from the Affordable Care Act, which is investing $167.3 million in primary care residency expansion nationwide.
During the three-year curriculum, the physicians, who are training to become certified family medicine doctors, will not only treat patients at the program’s home clinic at Coastal Family Medicine on Delaney Avenue, but will rotate into clinic settings in the community and region to help expand access to care at those sites.
“We are very excited to be expanding our residency program,” said Dr. Janalynn Beste, program director for the Family Medicine Residency Program and associate professor for UNC’s Department of Family Medicine. “There is still a vast need for family physicians in Southeastern North Carolina and this will allow us to continue filling that need.”
New Hanover Regional Medical Center and SEAHEC have partnered on graduate medical education since 1972. In 1996, after research documented a shortage of health care professionals in the region, the specialty of Family Medicine was added. The program’s goal is to graduate specialists to practice in rural settings, particularly nearby locations. The rural counties that make up NHRMC’s service area experience a shortage of doctors, and most have poverty rates that exceed the state and national averages.
The program has graduated 40 residents into the Family Medicine specialty, and about half are practicing in rural North Carolina.
The Coastal Family Medicine clinic handles about 13,000 patient visits a year. Almost two-thirds of its patients either have Medicaid or no insurance. The additional physicians will allow the clinic to reach even more patients who typically have little access to a primary care physician.
“We are happy to be recognized as a leader in the education of Primary Care physicians and are proud that our program has received this award,” said Dr. Mark Darrow, President/CEO of SEAHEC and Vice-President for Graduate Medical Education at NHRMC. “It will certainly strengthen our efforts to train excellent doctors and deliver high quality health care to those who desperately need it in our area.”
New Hanover Regional Medical Center is the leading provider of quality and accessible health care in Southeastern North Carolina, delivering care to all in need, without the support of taxpayer dollars. The medical center takes seriously its responsibility as an economic engine for the community, creating more than 4,500 jobs directly and another 3,000 jobs indirectly.