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Local Collaboration Addressing Physician Shortage Under Healthcare Reform

(Hendersonville, NC) With 30 million more Americans able to now gain access to health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the demand for high-quality primary care physicians will be increasing dramatically. Already, WNC has a shortage of over 100 primary care physicians, and this shortage will take on increased importance in the coming decades. Combined with an aging population, this shortage will place a tremendous stress on our health care system. 

Locally, Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS), Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), Pardee Hospital, and the MAHEC Hendersonville Family Medicine Residency Program, are proactively planning to respond to the anticipated need by collaborating to increase the number of newly graduated doctors entering the family medicine residency in Hendersonville.

These healthcare organizations are anticipating the need that the ACA will create. By utilizing grant dollars made available to MAHEC by the ACA under the “Teaching Health Center” program, the planned collaboration will not only increase the number of family medicine physicians training locally, but will also increase access for patients who struggle with poverty, a lack of health insurance, and other barriers to accessing healthcare.

Under the Teaching Health Center program, MAHEC will be increasing the number of residents entering its Hendersonville Family Medicine Residency, and the operations of the MAHEC outpatient clinical site, currently operated by Pardee, would be assumed by BRCHS. The plan requires final approval, but is anticipated to be complete by July 1.

According to Dr. Geoffrey Jones, the Program Director of the residency program, current patients shouldn’t experience any change in their current patient-physician relationship with the transition to BRCHS, but the goal is for the area to gain new, well-trained physicians for the long term. “We look forward to enhancing our residency program through this partnership” said Dr. Jones. “Patients will continue to see all of the same providers and staff, but under the new banner of BRCHS. We look forward to expanding our residency classes through this funding initiative and retaining even more graduates to stay in the Hendersonville area.”

BRCHS is a non-profit community health center that has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for 50 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental and mental health care as well as promote health awareness/education. Services are conveniently located in Hendersonville at 2579 Chimney Rock Road (the corner of US 64 East and Howard Gap Road); in Brevard at 89 Hospital Drive, Suite B (just before the hospital); and in four Henderson County Public Schools – Bruce Drysdale Elementary, Hillandale Elementary, Apple Valley Middle and North Henderson High School. If you would like more information about BRCHS services, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P. O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC 28793; or online at www.brchs.com or www.facebook.com/BRCHS.

MAHEC is a not-for-profit corporation established in 1974 as part of the statewide North Carolina AHEC System and provides high quality, compassionate healthcare as a foundation for training top physicians and health professionals. Serving the 16-county region of WNC, MAHEC operates accredited residency and fellowship programs in Family Medicine, Ob/Gyn, General Dentistry, Geriatric Medicine, and Hospice/Palliative Medicine and offers over 400 continuing education programs to healthcare professionals annually. MAHEC operates a Library and Knowledge Services department, offers health careers awareness programs, facilitates community-based training for university health science students, and provides quality improvement consultation services to primary care and specialty physician practices. MAHEC clinicians provide patient care services in locations in Asheville and Hendersonville. For more information, call 257-4400 or visit www.mahec.net .

Pardee Hospital is a not-for-profit community hospital founded in 1953 and is managed by UNC Health Care. The hospital is licensed for 222 acute care beds. The hospital has several locations separate from the main campus and a comprehensive physician practice network. For more information or to find a physician, call 1-866-790-WELL (9355) or visit www.pardeehospital.org

 
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