The Norman Transcript

State/Region

June 23, 2013

Rural Okla. hospitals struggle to recruit doctors

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

The programs help fill doctor shortages in rural communities where hospitals are threatened with having to shut down, officials said.

“It’s very difficult to get successful recruitment in our rural areas,” said Teresa Huggins, CEO of the Stigler Health and Wellness Center, a non-profit health care center in Stigler, population 2,685. Huggins said two medical doctors and two osteopathic physicians staff the center and it is recruiting a primary care physician to staff its clinic in Eufaula.

“A lot of it is because of the remote area. Just the lack of access to the same amenities in the larger towns,” Huggins said.

“Part of it is perception,” said Dean Turner, administrator at Perry Memorial Hospital in Perry, population 5,126. “It is different than say going to Oklahoma City.” The Noble County city has two medical doctors and the hospital is recruiting for a family practice physician.

Health care administrators said it helps to recruit physicians with family ties to rural areas that are underserved, but Charles H. Greene Jr., administrator of the Cordell Memorial Hospital in Washita County, said that does not always work. Of six students from Cordell who are in medical school, “none of them are coming back,” Greene said.

“No one wants to come out in the rural setting. It’s very difficult,” he said.

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