Doctor shortage addressed in the Upstate - FOX Carolina 21

Doctor shortage addressed in the Upstate

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GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Getting into the doctor can be a challenge for parts of the Upstate, especially in more rural communities.

A doctor shortage, especially in the primary care field, is leading to longer wait times for appointments, and sometimes more visits to urgent care and the ER.

Doctors and residents we spoke with at Greenville Health System say there are a number of reasons for this including salary, more interest in being part of a specialized field and a lack of family medicine residency spots.

Dr. Aaron Zeller is a family medicine physician at GHS.  “Doctors aren't living where they need to live.  Doctors aren't actually being trained in the type of specialties we need, there’s definitely economic incentives to become a sub-specialized physician.”

Now, GHS is trying to change that, by starting two new residency programs in Greer and Seneca.

“Both the Greer and Oconee communities are down about 20 primary care physicians based on some numbers we've run,” said Dr. Zeller.

The hope is that training doctors locally will keep them in the Upstate, and allow patients to get seen more quickly.

But Dr. Zeller says it will take some time.  “Family doctors aren't just growing on trees, it takes awhile to train them, but the long term goal is to really do something about the healthcare shortage by training more quality physicians that are going to stay and work in areas that need them.”

The program is set to start in 2020.

It is being paid for partly through federal and Medicare funds, GHS will be pitching in and the program will make money seeing patients as well.

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