Let’s work together to get doctors

Published 12:02am Sunday, July 28, 2013

What’s the biggest challenge facing our community?

If most of us were asked that question, we’d likely say: Jobs, education, quality of life, etc.

All are the usual words uttered by politicians and civic leaders.

It’s unlikely, however, that luring more physicians to the area would be high on most of our lists.

But perhaps it should.

Old age is at play here. Both the age of our population — which is growing older with each passing year — and the age of the physicians we have in the area.

Health care experts in the area are slightly worried that the community already has fewer physicians than we need — based on national statistics — but the problem might get worse before it gets better.

You see as existing physicians retire through the years, the problem gets worse.

Both local hospitals are working to recruit young doctors to the area and both have had some success.

If, as one hospital’s prediction is correct, we’ll need another 17 physicians to come to the area in the next three years or so, our recruiting game may need to be stepped up a notch or two.

Could our efforts be combined regionally? Would having one single hospital in Natchez, rather than two, be a factor?

Of course, solving the physician problem also is intertwined with the answer that most of us give to the question: What’s the community’s biggest challenge?

Good-paying jobs provide health care insurance so physicians can actually develop a practice.

Great public schools lure both physicians and employers.

Excellent quality of life makes the area attractive to outsiders.

The problem isn’t likely solved with the wait-and-see or the Field of Dreams approach — get the playing field built and the physicians will come. Instead this is going to require a concerted, targeted effort.