SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--A three-year, $100 million allotment from California’s General Fund will tackle the shortage and training of primary care physicians in the state’s medically underserved areas, a move advocated by the Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of California among several health care groups.
“This means they get the chance to know and understand their patient population”
The Song-Brown Program, a grant within the state’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, will support residency programs for primary care physicians in rural areas and Central Valley cities, making medical care more convenient and accessible for thousands of Californians. The support may materialize as either the establishment of new training facilities or repurposing existing facilities or clinics.
“While the program is limited to a three-year period, at least initially, it has the potential to be much more than a temporary fix,” said Abraham Pera, an osteopathic physician who teaches radiology at Touro University in Vallejo, California, and the current president of the Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of California.
“When osteopathic physicians and medical doctors — all of whom are equally trained and equally licensed to practice the healing arts — do their residencies in underserved areas, they tend to remain there once they start their own practices or join medical groups,” he added.
“This means they get the chance to know and understand their patient population,” said Kathleen Creason, executive director of the Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of California. “In rural areas, this may include poverty-line farmers and those who fish or cut timber for a living. The loss of manufacturing, as well as industry deregulation, dealt terrible blows to both industries,” she said.
Both Pera and Creason pointed out that in rural areas, the underserved may include a preponderance of immigrants and senior citizens, for whom just getting to a clinic can be challenging.
To advocate for the program funds, the Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of California worked with a coalition of health care groups led by the California Medical Association and joined by the California Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Physicians, California Primary Care Association, California Hospital Association, California Children’s Hospitals Association and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.