Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another year passes, and another rural Iowa hospital gives up births, for lack of obstetricians

For the last 14 years, one hospital per year in Iowa has given up obstetric services because it has found itself without an obstetrician-gynecologist on staff. State data show that only 46 of the state's 181 ob-gyns practice in rural counties, and most of the 181 are in the six largest counties, reports Lynda Waddington of the Iowa Independent. Waddington's story for the online publication is accompanied by a Google map showing in red the hospitals without obstetric services.

"Officials say that doctors need more than an invitation and short-term incentives before they will begin a long-term practice in a rural setting," Waddington reports. "While Iowa continues to pursue incentives like loan forgiveness programs, the legislature and Iowa’s rural communities have yet to address the root causes of the shortage, including the state’s dismally low Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rate and the lack of encouragement and incentives for young rural Iowans to take the plunge into medical school."

Waddington writes about the Smoky Hill Family Medicine Residency Program in Salina, Kan., that has a good record of placing new physicians in rural areas. (Read more)

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