Consortium Aims to Address Doctor Shortage

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Dr. Janet Seabrook signs the letter of intent on behalf of Community HealthNet Health Centers. (photo courtesy IU Northwest) Dr. Janet Seabrook signs the letter of intent on behalf of Community HealthNet Health Centers. (photo courtesy IU Northwest)

A group of leaders representing nine health care institutions in northwest Indiana has signed a formal letter of intent to create a consortium to address a shortage of doctors in the region. The Northwest Indiana Graduate Medical Education Consortium will increase the number of residency positions at the participating organizations.

The consortium is being led by the Indiana University School of Medicine - Northwest - Gary. The school says not only will health care providers be able to create the residency positions within their organizations, but they can also apply for newly-created startup funding for the positions.

“The formation of residency programs would complete the medical education continuum for our region, having established the third- and fourth-year programs five years ago and now establishing residencies, of which currently none are based on our local hospitals, clinics and mental health agencies," said Patrick Bankston, associate dean and director of the school. "The long-term goal would be to increase the quality of care in the region, allowing our patients to seek care here rather than in Chicago or Indianapolis, providing a flow of excellent doctors to practice here to help with our physician shortage."

The institutions participating in the consortium, which consists of hospitals, federally qualified health centers and mental health centers, include:

  • Community Healthcare System (Munster Community, St. Catherine Hospital, St. Mary Medical Center)
  • Methodist Hospitals
  • Porter Health Care System
  • La Porte Hospital
  • Community HealthNet Health Centers
  • HealthLinc Inc.
  • Regional Mental Health Center
  • Porter-Starke Services
  • Edgewater Systems

IU Northwest cites studies which show that often, doctors will end up practicing in the same area where they complete their residency training. The first class to be able to apply for the residencies is expected to come in 2019 with about 165 students in the first couple of years.

The consortium is the second of its kind in the state. The first was established in southwest Indiana with four regional hospitals. IU Northwest says both programs will apply for state startup funds targeted toward the development of residencies.

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