Need for Doctors in Rural Areas

ILLINOIS (WIFR) – Thanks to Obama’s healthcare law, millions of people will be eligible for health care insurance next year, but they might have trouble finding a doctor. More than 20 counties in Illinois suffer from doctor shortages and those living in rural areas may have the hardest time getting primary care.

Doctor Luc Tchapnda has yet to have a slow day since he started working at the Swedish American Medical Clinic in Rochelle two months ago. He sees about 10 patients a day as the only full time doctor, and he worries that number will double soon.

I expect to see in the future, down to several months if not years down the road to see an average of 18 to 20 a day, if not more. 25 if possible,” said Tchapnda.

It’s a trend many doctors will see because of a national doctor shortage. Under Obama’s health care law, 30 million people will be insured for the first time making it harder for doctors to keep up with the demand. Rural areas are being hit the hardest. 22 counties in Illinois, including Carroll and Ogle already don’t have enough primary care physicians to serve the community.

Everybody should have someone overseeing their healthcare.”
Julia Zimmerman with Swedish American Medical group says part of the problem is recruiting doctors to practice in more rural areas.

“Most people want to be in bigger cities and they want, they’re attracted to the Chicagos, or those places that have all the brass and glass and all the entertainment they’re looking for.”

Zimmerman say only 5% of doctors want to live in smaller cities like Rochelle. Doctors like Tchapnda hope that will change as new providers come into the field.

The University of Illinois College of Medicine here in Rockford hopes to help with the doctor need in rural areas. It’s rural medical program allows students to practice and work in those communities. We’re told many of them go back to work in those particular cities once they graduate.

OSF Medical Center hopes to help add doctors in rural areas, which is why they’re opening a clinic in Byron this year.

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