For most of us, access to healthcare is something we take for granted,
that is, until we need it. I’ve said before that Campbell County
Health can’t be all things to all people. While we do provide a
wide array of medical
specialties, there are some specialties and types of care that we just can’t
provide here, like open-heart surgery or brain surgery. Campbell County,
Wyoming doesn’t have a large enough population to keep up the skills
needed to be a top-notch provider for some specialties. When faced with
a choice, most of us would want to see the
doctor who has performed the same surgery 100s of times year after year, not
one who does them occasionally.
So how do we decide want kinds of medical specialties are needed here?
Every two to three years we engage with an expert firm to take an in-depth
look at our population, the different age groups we have, and any anticipated
growth or declines in the community. We look at the composition of the
medical staff; how many providers we have, whether they are physicians
or advanced practice providers; what kinds of specialties are already
in the community or coming here periodically; and how close they may be
to an average retirement age. We give the medical staff an opportunity
to provide their input, and also included is national data on how many
providers are generally needed to support the community’s needs.
All that data is compiled into a report that projects recommendations
for physician recruitment up to five years into the future.
The recently completed plan for the next five years has some recommendations
that you might expect: we need more primary care providers, like
internal medicine and
pediatrics. One area that might be a little surprising is a recommendation to recruit
a gastroenterologist. This is a specialist who is focused on disorders
of the digestive system. They perform procedures like colonoscopy and
endoscopy, and treat diseases like inflammatory bowel disease. Now the
closest gastroenterologist is located in Casper. While we’re used
to driving long distances in Wyoming, the study shows that we have the
number of types of patients here that could benefit from having this specialty
in Campbell County.
It’s important that you as a healthcare consumer understand this
process, because some of your tax dollars go toward recruiting providers
based on the community need.
Recruitment is an ongoing process, and finding quality providers who are
willing to come to and stay in rural areas usually takes time. I recently saw a
study about rural healthcare by the
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,
Harvard School of Public Health and
National Public Radio. According to the study, 25% of those surveyed said they couldn’t
get access to the healthcare they needed in the last year. We don’t
ever want to get to a point where basic healthcare isn’t available
in our community. That’s why we actively recruit providers using
a planned approach that is both public and transparent. Our mission is
to provide a lifetime of care, and to do that successfully, we must recruit
the best physicians our community needs.
Andy Fitzgerald, CEO