Residency clinic ‘an investment into the future’

Herald photo
Construction on the $8 million Family Medicine Center at the corner of 13th and Bartley streets in Jasper began last spring and is expected to be completed in fall 2018. The residency program will begin with its first residents in July 2019.

By OLIVIA INGLE
oingle@dcherald.com

JASPER — Construction is underway on a more than 15,000-square-foot Family Medicine Center at the corner of 13th and Bartley streets in Jasper that will house Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center’s new Family Medicine Residency Program.

“It’s a training center for resident physicians to learn how to be family physicians,” said Dr. Stan Tretter, Memorial’s vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer. “Patients will be able to utilize that building as any other family medicine clinic would be, where there’s a waiting room and office space and exam rooms, just as you would expect a medical office to be.”

After students complete a bachelor’s degree and four years of medical school, they enter the medical workforce and become resident physicians. They complete a paid residency program (a training program) in their field of specialty.

Memorial has never had a residency program. Its new Family Medicine Residency Program will be a three-year program sponsored by the Indiana University School of Medicine that trains physicians in family medicine, which includes basic health care for all ages. The program will take five new residents every year.

“They (IU) are going to sponsor our program, which means they provide the educational curriculum and a lot of the support we need and our job is to provide the clinical space for these residents to learn from,” Tretter said.

Memorial’s Family Medicine Center will include classroom and office space for the resident physicians who are in training, as well as the faculty physicians (some new and some already employed by Memorial) who will teach and supervise them. And because education is a collaborative experience, Tretter said, there will also be space for a social worker and mental health therapist. Additional staff will also be hired for the center, such as nurses and receptionists.

“So, really providing a full scope of primary care services for patients,” Tretter said.

He said that after patients call to make an appointment at the center, they will be assigned to a particular resident physician who will become their doctor during the resident’s time in Jasper.

The resident physicians will also spend time at the hospital, Tretter said, such as in the operating room with surgeons, in the cardiac catheterization lab with cardiologists or with hospitalists on the hospital floor. They’ll also spend time in Memorial’s various specialty medical offices.

Construction on the $8 million Family Medicine Center began last spring and is expected to be completed in fall 2018. The residency program will begin with its first residents in July 2019.

Kyle Bennett, Memorial’s president and CEO, said the building and the new residency program are more than a project.

“It’s a direction,” he said. “It’s an investment into the future.”

He, Tretter and the new residency program’s director, Dr. Rex Stroud, hope the program will help attract physicians to Memorial after they complete the program.

According to data from the American Medical Association, nearly 70 percent of physicians ultimately practice within 100 miles of where they complete their residency program. The closest residency program to Jasper is at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, which is currently one of two residency programs of any specialty south of Indianapolis. The other is a family medicine program at Union Hospital in Terre Haute.

A group of health care, university and community leaders from across Southwestern Indiana met more than five years ago to discuss expanding medical and health science within the region. A study found that there was a need to expand graduate medical education opportunities in this part of the state in order to train, recruit and retain physicians in the region.

From that need, the Southwestern Indiana GME Consortium was formed with the goal of developing residency programs to train physicians in Southwest Indiana and the ultimate goal of those physicians practicing within the region long-term. The consortium includes Memorial, Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, St. Vincent Evansville, Deaconess Hospital in Evansville and the Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville.

In addition to Memorial’s residency program, two others are also in development as a part of the consortium.

Good Samaritan and St. Vincent Evansville will share an internal medicine residency program and Good Samaritan will also have a psychiatry program.

Tretter said each of the new residency programs within the consortium will be based at its “home hospital”; however, residents in each program “may spend occasional time at one of the other three hospitals to broaden their clinical experiences.” While Deaconess is part of the consortium, its own residency program that already exists will continue to operate independently at its facility.

Tretter said Memorial’s new residency program will fill both a short-term and long-term need.

“In the short-term, by having these new resident physicians here and the faculty here, that is going to provide primary care services for people in our community immediately once the program starts,” he said. “Then, in time, as these residents graduate, the hope is that some of them, many of them, will set up practices within our communities too. So, that will kind of be our ongoing supply of physicians in the future as current physicians retire or move away.”

Stroud sees the residency program as a great fit for resident physicians who are from Southwestern Indiana and want to stay here.

“We first want to target those people who are from this area,” he said. “And then those good physicians who want to be part of an excellent program that’s in the exciting first few years of its existence.”

Bennett said that following undergraduate students from the area who are interested in medicine, as well as those from here who are in medical school, has always been part of Memorial’s recruitment strategy, and the new residency program will now allow the hospital to employ them sooner.

“Previously it was following them through residency too, but now we have the opportunity to bring them here for that three-year span (residency) when they’ll actually work with the providers they’ll be working with once they graduate from the residency,” Stroud said. “They’ve already established that comfort level with the local specialists, the local hospital. Again, that’s huge when you’re a young physician.”










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