Communities line up for incentives

By The Associated Press
http://www.billingsgazette.net

CHEYENNE – State officials are expecting tough competition among Wyoming communities for grant money to help recruit physicians.

The Legislature has allocated $400,000 under the program. Each community that receives a grant will get up to $80,000 to help cover a physician’s signing bonus, moving expenses and medical malpractice premiums.

The Rural and Frontier Health Division of the Wyoming Department of Health plans to award the grants by the end of September.

The Wyoming Health Care Commission in January listed eight Wyoming counties as top priorities for getting more physicians. Those counties – Big Horn, Carbon, Crook, Niobrara, Platte, Sublette, Washakie and Weston – have fewer than one physician per 1,000 residents. The national average is 2.8 physicians per 1,000 people.

One of the applications will be for one physician for the Crook County Medical Services District hospital in Sundance.

The county has four physicians, but two are a married couple who work part time. The county also has a physician’s assistant and a nurse practitioner who work in the county’s three clinics at Moorcroft, Hulett and Sundance, hospital administrator Doris Brown said Monday.

Brown said the small staff and heavy workload are taking a toll.

“They’re getting to the burnout stage,” Brown said.

The physicians work in the clinic and then are on call for the hospital as well.

The recruited physicians will agree to provide medical care in underserved areas for at least two years or to pay the grant money back at 10 percent interest.

Copyright © 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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