Doctor shortage in SWFL?

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Thursday’s vote by the Supreme Court was seen as a victory for one major hospital system locally.

Right now, Southwest Florida is the worst in the state for a shortage of primary care doctors, but now a new residency program right here in Lee County hopes to bring new doctors to our area.

“It is not so great for the patients, but it is a great time to get in to medicine, especially primary care,” said Lee Memorial resident Kristin Miller.

Miller is doing something about the doctor shortage plaguing the country. She’s the first graduate of the family care residency program at the Lee Memorial Health System.

“Rotating in the hospital, we do obstetrics, pediatrics, very broad spectrum of things,” said Miller.

According to officials at Lee Memorial, a new study shows Southwest Florida as one of the worst areas in the state for a shortage of primary care doctors.

“We know that there is a 260 physician shortage in family medicine over the next 10 years for this area,” said Dr. Gary Goforth with Lee Memorial.

“I know that this the reason for this program and the main reason why it was started here because there is that shortage,” said hospital resident Chelsey Scheiner.

The program graduates six doctors a year that hopefully stay local and make a dent in the shortage.

“We know that within residency programs, over half of them stay in the same area that they train,” said Goforth.

Lee Memorial’s president, Jim Nathan, also tells WINK News, there would be a major doctor shortage regardless of the Affordable Care Act and is thrilled “Obamacare” is here to stay.

“Florida has the highest turnout in terms of people signing up for the health exchanges, 1.3 million people. And they were all at risk today for losing their health insurance,” said Nathan.

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