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Jefferson Co. tries to recruit new doctors

February 17, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Offering incentives like financial assistance, Jefferson Memorial Hospital is attempting to recruit doctors to Jefferson County to offset a shortage of physicians in the county.

So far, two doctors finishing their residency training are seriously considering setting up practice in Jefferson County, said Jefferson Memorial Hospital Administrator Jon Applebaum.

One of the doctors is finishing residency training at Harpers Ferry Family Medicine and the second is finishing training out of state, Applebaum said.

Jefferson County has about 13 primary care doctors, but some are not accepting any more patients.

Applebaum would not say what the hospital is offering the doctors, except that the hospital's board of managers has given him permission to offer them contracts.

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Jefferson Memorial is also offering financial assistance to help doctors set up practices here, or offering them consultation services to set up practice, Applebaum said.

Applebaum said it is common for hospitals to offer the incentives as states compete with each other for young doctors.

"North Carolina seems to be very competitive now. It's a national issue," said Applebaum.

Like the Eastern Panhandle, North Carolina has rural areas with a shortage of doctors.

Rather than completing their residency training in rural areas like the Eastern Panhandle, young doctors usually go to hospitals in bigger cities and end up going into practice there. The result is a shortage of local physicians.

Jefferson Memorial has been working to reverse that trend, partly through its decision to build a new medical center in Bolivar where medical students from West Virginia University will be able to complete their three-year residency training.

Hospital officials hope that by allowing medical students to train at the Bolivar Medical Center, they will be attracted to the rural area.

The Bolivar Medical Center is expected to be completed this summer.

City Hospital near Martinsburg is also recruiting doctors.

The Berkeley County hospital has had to recruit three to six doctors a year to keep up with the county's population growth and retirement of physicians, hospital Administrator Peter Mulford said.

Like Jefferson Memorial, City Hospital will offer doctors loans to help them set up practice, Mulford said.

Doctors also can be employed through a subsidiary of City Hospital known as Gateway Health Services, Mulford said.

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