As its population gets grayer, northwest Ohio has a growing need for physicians practicing family medicine. But a shifting medical landscape had reduced the number of potential family medicine residency slots available locally.
However, the situation will improve this summer when St. Luke’s Hospital in Maumee launches its family medicine residency program and welcomes its first class of six resident physicians.
Brian Gruber, Ridgestone General Contractors, left, and John Stout, administrator of St. Luke's Hospital, give a tour of the St. Luke's Family Practice Residency building in Perrysburg.
They will work in Perrysburg in a state-of-the-art 15,000-square-foot family medicine residency facility, located off State Rt. 25, that will begin treating patients the day the building is completed on July 1.
On Wednesday St. Luke’s officials gave a construction update and tour of its half-completed facility, which is under roof and ready for interior walls. The project broke ground in November.
“What we’re hoping is this is going to accommodate those people in our community who are still looking for a family medicine physician,” said John Stout, the hospital’s administrative director for physician services. “We receive calls every day asking for primary care.”
Eventually, six residents per year will enroll in the three-year family medicine residency program, for a rotation of 18 residents by 2020. This year the six new residents will be joined by between five and nine residents transferring to the St. Luke’s program from other residency programs.
“We’re hoping to have anywhere between 11 and 15 residents here the first year,” Mr. Stout said. The facility also will have seven faculty members, nurses, and additional support staff.
A residency program is one of the ways the community replaces its supply of doctors. “The residents come here from other places, but then they kind of form all their medical relationships here and they tend to stay,” said Keith Burmeister, vice president and chief relations officer at St. Luke’s Hospital.
ProMedica used to train family medicine residents, including 18 at Toledo Hospital and 12 at St. Luke’s Hospital. But in 2014 it dropped the St. Luke’s residency program, which been operating since 2007, as part of its divestiture of the Maumee hospital.
People tour St. Luke's Family Practice Residency building in Perrysburg. The building is scheduled to open July 1.
Then last year, ProMedica announced it was ending its family medicine residency program at Toledo Hospital.
The University of Toledo and Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center both have three-year family medicine residency programs, training four and six residents per year, respectively.
But Mr. Stout said there is strong population growth in Perrysburg and surrounding communities, making the need for more family medicine physicians in that area stronger than ever.
“Market growth is really coming this way. …We see this as a prime area,” Mr. Stout said.
The residency facility, which is being built by Ridge Stone General Contractors, will have 24 exam rooms equipped with video camera to help residents learn from their experiences, two procedure rooms, administrative space, and a large conference area for lectures and other teaching experiences.
“This has been a fun project to design and build. … The weather delayed us a bit, but we’ll be ready by July 1,” said developer Brian Gruber, of Ridge Stone.
St. Luke’s residency program became accredited in November. It then began accepting applications from newly graduated physicians and brought in 40 for interviews.
Under a national “match” system, applicants prioritize which residency programs they prefer, and the programs prioritize which applicants they want. On March 16 the match results will be revealed and St. Luke’s will learn which candidates were paired with its program.
Mr. Burmeister said many of the applicants it interviewed were from the Midwest but a surprising number came from other areas of the country, expressing a desire to experience northwest Ohio. “Some hadn’t seen snow, but were just fine with it,” he said.
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