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News

  1. 1. Wisconsin Hospital Association, Inc. News Contact: Mary Kay Grasmick 608-274-1820 (office) 608-575-7516 (cell) Funding Cuts Threaten Physician Training Programs Exacerbates Growing Shortage of Docs MADISON (March 11, 2003)------------- Access to health care in rural and inner city areas that depend on medical residents to staff much-needed medical and dental clinics could be threatened if a state budget proposal to eliminate funding is approved. The recently introduced state budget bill eliminates $57 million for medical education training over the biennium. Currently, the state’s Medicaid program provides funding for Graduate Medical Education (GME) at Wisconsin’s 33 teaching hospitals. By eliminating about $23 million of state funding, Wisconsin forfeits another $34 million of federal funding. Currently, the state’s Medicaid program provides funding for residency programs at Wisconsin’s 33 teaching hospitals. This funding is used by hospitals to help cover the cost of residents’ salaries and other direct and indirect costs of medical education. Speaking at a Wisconsin Hospital Association news conference at the State Capitol today, Steve Brenton, WHA president said, “Elimination of this funding is a huge concern because medical residents help staff trauma centers, rural and inner city medical clinics, and free dental clinics, ensuring that we have a health care safety net in place for our most vulnerable patients.” Carl Getto, MD, associate dean for hospital affairs, UW Medical School and senior vice president for medical affairs at UW Hospital & Clinics, voiced his concern for the future of physician training programs in Wisconsin. “The medical education system in Wisconsin is the result of many years of investment, hard work and good planning by state legislators and the people of Wisconsin. Residents provide services that people need—trauma, psychiatric and basic medical care,” Getto said. “These cuts put the residency program in jeopardy and will mean that fewer physicians will train and eventually locate in Wisconsin.” A resident’s training site is the best predictor of where they will practice, according to Kevin O’Connell, MD, director of the UW-Family Residency Practice Program in Wausau. O’Connell said of 120 graduates of the Wausau residency program, 65% are practicing in Wisconsin, and of those, 65% are in rural areas. “We import more physicians than we export; 70% of our graduates have come from outside of Wisconsin two thirds stay in the state after completing their residency. These are physicians that
  2. 2. we would have a difficult time attracting to Northern Wisconsin if they had not completed a residency here,” O’Connell said. The residency programs are essential to ensuring that the health care safety net is in place, according to Jeff Stearns, MD, vice president academic affairs and associate dean of the UW-Milwaukee Clinical Campus. “Physicians in the Milwaukee residency programs care for the most needy populations, providing care in clinic settings, instead of the hospital emergency department that is much more costly,” according to Stearns. “These proposed cuts will lead to fewer residency positions and have a major impact on the future physician supply in Wisconsin.” With an aging population and an aging physician workforce, William Petasnick, president and CEO of Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Milwaukee, said, “Now is not the time to reduce the number of physicians trained in the state. This is about training tomorrow’s physicians, those who will care for our children and our aging parents. Without residency programs, we risk losing the brain power that we have worked hard to retain in the state.” Below are just a few examples of how GME benefits Wisconsin communities: ! Sixty-four percent of the 142 graduates of the Eau Claire Family Medicine Residency program supported by Sacred Heart Hospital and Luther Hospital are practicing in Wisconsin. Half of those serve communities of less than 10,000, and one-quarter practice within 50 miles of Eau Claire. In order to enhance its focus on training physicians for rural practice, the program has established rural training sites in Augusta and Menomonie. ! Half of the more than 100 graduates of the Wausau Hospital-supported UW Family Practice Residency Program have gone into practice in North Central Wisconsin – many in rural communities. To prepare residents for rural practice, Wausau Hospital and Langlade Memorial Hospital have partnered in Antigo to support a small community (population of less than 2,000) family practice training program. ! Sixty-three percent of the 118 graduates of the St. Elizabeth Hospital and Appleton Medical Center residency program practice in Wisconsin. Of those, 44% practice in Northeast Wisconsin and 28% in the Fox Cities. All six of the 2002 graduates stayed in the state. Each year, this program places one to three graduates into rural practice in Wisconsin. ! Eighty percent of the 190 graduates of the Aurora Health Care family medicine residency program practice in Wisconsin - many at Aurora Sinai Medical Center located in Milwaukee’s inner city. Eighty percent of the internal medicine residency graduates practice in Wisconsin as well. Residents provide basic health care services to the general population, as well as many special needs groups such as the elderly and indigent. In many communities, clinics staffed by residents serve as major health care safety nets. Below are just a few examples.
  3. 3. ! In Metro Milwaukee, Covenant Healthcare System supports residency programs at both St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center and St. Michael Hospital. Currently, residents provide 100% of the physician staffing for an obstetrics clinic at St. Joseph’s and a family care clinic at St. Michael’s. In addition to the impacts on these clinics, reductions in the number of residents will impact surgical and radiology services at St. Joseph’s where residents provide significant staffing. ! Aurora Health Care supports five medical residency programs, five fellowship programs and one dental residency program in Milwaukee. Programs at Aurora Sinai include internal medicine, ob/gyn, geriatrics, gastroenterology and cardiology. Programs at St. Luke’s Medical Center include dental, radiology, and family medicine. The programs are community-based with residents treating patients in a community hospital. ! In Dane County, Meriter Hospital supports a charitable dental clinic staffed by residents. ###

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