A persistent shortage of primary care doctors in every part of New York State threatens its ability to meet the demands of the Affordable Care Act according to its Healthcare Association. In fact, primary care physicians only represent 18% of all doctors statewide.
For years, medical school graduates have shunned family practice, as well as general pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology in favor of other specialties which require less hours and “hassles,” as well as offering higher remuneration according to Dr. Steven Walerstein, medical director of Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.
Even worse, it has been reported that 75% of the hospitals upstate were found to lack coverage in their emergency departments for certain medical specialties, especially neurosurgeons, which suggests the doctor shortages affect more areas than previously thought.
“This is extremely serious,” exclaimed Daniel Sisto, president of the Health Care Association of New York State. “Thousands of the state’s residents are now destined to gain insurance coverage with the ongoing rollout of health care reform, which will now force Albany to come up with new strategies to address the shortage and ensure all New Yorkers have access to the care they need.”
One solution involves the establishment of so-called patient-centered medical homes, which were first proposed in the 1960’s, and which has already been established at the NUMC.
“The patient-centered medical home involves a health-care team including non physician providers such as nurses and nurse practioners as well as physicians’ assistants and dietitians to augment the care of the physician,” explained Walerstein. “Under a team approach, the doctors have more time for patients, especially those with complex problems.”