Colquitt Regional Medical Center building new education center; working to battle staff shortages

Video from WALB
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 11:40 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2022 at 5:45 PM EDT
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MOULTRIE, Ga. (WALB) - Colquitt Regional Medical Center is building a new medical education building to better serve south Georgia’s healthcare.

Colquitt Regional’s new medical education building will enhance access to primary care and psychiatry, according to the hospital.

Medical experts at Colquitt Regional say they are seeing an increase in mental health issues.

Most rural areas are underserved with professionals to treat mental health but the new medical education building will offer residency programs to address these growing needs.

Colquitt Regional Medical Center will have its new Medical Education Building open Fall of 2023.
Colquitt Regional Medical Center will have its new Medical Education Building open Fall of 2023.(Source: WALB)

“So everything that we see here is things that we see in the big cities as well, but it’s more personal here and because your patients are part of the community,” 1st-year Psychiatry resident, Anthony Cimmino said. “You see them on an everyday basis inside and outside the hospital. You build relationships with them, and that was something very special to me.”

Typically, medical residents will stay within a 50-mile radius of where they train. Health officials said Colquitt Regional has been able to see success already with hiring physicians after their residency and graduation.

“The beautiful thing as a physician about being in graduate medical education and working with residents is the number of patients that we get to touch (with) because it’s exponentially larger now because as we produce more high-quality physicians. Whether they stay in the community or even go abroad, we’re touching that many more people’s lives,” Colquitt Regional Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Woodwin Weeks said.

Colquitt Regional hopes to become “The Center of Excellence” by providing the necessary training in the fields of family medicine and psychiatry residencies.

“As of right now, my plan is to practice, get board certified right after I graduate, and practice here in Moultrie and give back to the community that’s so nice enough to give me an opportunity down here,” said Cimmino.

Here at Colquitt Regional, their goal is to train, retain and educate the next generation of medical professionals. This comes as hospitals nationwide have seen shortages in medical personnel.

“The state was forecasting a decade ago that there’d be a shortage. We’re in a health professional shortage area. One of the solutions to that being agricultural was to grow our own physicians and so corporate regional embarked on a journey that’s taken about seven years to start residency programs,” President of Medical Education, Jessica Rivenbark Vice said.

Currently, Colquitt Regional is accredited for both residency programs of family medicine and psychiatry services. 12 medical residents are in the program. Part of retaining talent is recruiting from within to serve a growing population.

“So they’ll work on their clinical skills, we do a lot of interprofessional training, we will sometimes they’ll be working on mock code so they can perfect their skills with those while they’re in a controlled environment. So, they can practice that in a you know, in an environment that allows for time or questions and things like that rather than a real-life situation,” Nurse Recruiter, Whitney Costin said.

There are four simulators during the training process that will help assist with real-life scenarios of what it would be like in the hospital. The training medical students receive will give them the opportunity to practice in a more relaxed environment.

“So our labor and delivery room will have Victoria, which is a high fidelity mannequins, where we can simulate different labor events so the mannequin can actually deliver a baby in many different settings so it will really help our nursing staff to prepare for those events as well as our residents that are working in that setting,” Director of Education, Kayla Long said.

This new facility is expected to open in the fall of 2023. The goal of the education building is to equip medical learners with the resources they need to succeed.

With these two residency programs, the goal is to retain these physicians in their prospective areas.