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Sumter County in need of doctors

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

July 28, 2008

AMERICUS, GA (WALB) - The effects of the March 2007 tornado are still being felt in Sumter County. Now, in the form of a shortage of doctors.

After the tornado destroyed Sumter Regional hospital, doctors had to travel to treat patients. Some of them decided to make the hospitals they visited their new home, while others left South Georgia altogether. That left Americus with a challenge to recruit new doctors.

The March first tornado physically damaged Sumter Regional Hospital. Now it's ripping apart the medical community in a different way. Many specialists and surgeons without a place to operate for more than a year were forced to find work elsewhere.

"Our staff got use to traveling to accommodate their patients and some of them indeed have left," said Dr. Anderw Carlson, SRH V.P. of Medical Affairs.

That's left the hospital with a difficult task of recruiting new physicians, something not easily done, especially in a rural community like Americus.

"Coming to south Georgia that's a rural area so, we have to makes sure that the family members, the spouse and the children, have enough going on to maintain their interest in staying here," said Carlson.

So they're using every means they can find, including the advantages a small hospital can offer over a bigger facility.

"People are a lot friendlier in smaller hospitals, I've had some experience in bigger towns, bigger hospitals, people are a lot friendlier, they're more helpful, and more respectful," said Dr. Shahrzad Grey, SRH Internal Medicine.

They're also using the rebuilding process in their favor, to recruit physicians looking to build a practice. "For physicians that's important because a lot of folks are into generating new business and new practices so this is a golden opportunity," said Carlson.

Recruiters say enticing physicians will be a much easier job when they have the new hospital and while that's three years away they hope the promise will be enough for doctor's to consider Americus.

The hospital is currently involved in numerous job searches. They're looking for two general surgeons, two orthopedic surgeons, two gynecologists, and several internal medicine specialists to help staff their hospitalist program.

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