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Why are some doctors closing their practices?

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In the Delta, the numbers go down significantly. There are no doctors in Issaquena County. In the Delta, the numbers go down significantly. There are no doctors in Issaquena County.
Now with almost 6,000 practicing physicians in Mississippi, the greatest numbers are found in Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties. Now with almost 6,000 practicing physicians in Mississippi, the greatest numbers are found in Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties.
The greatest number of doctors left Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The greatest number of doctors left Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

What would you do if you went to your doctor of many years and the office was closed PERMANENTLY? That is happening. While we're told not in great numbers, many doctors are closing their offices and moving to hospitals or other facilities.

The greatest number of doctors left Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"We know that we are behind in physicians nationally," explained Dr. John Mitchell, Director of the Office of Mississippi Physician Workforce at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. "We're last as far as physicians per capita ratio."

Now with almost 6,000 practicing physicians in Mississippi, the greatest numbers are found in Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties. In the Delta, the numbers go down significantly. There are no doctors in Issaquena County.

"In pediatrics, OB-GYN, internal medicine, family medicine, the basis of good healthcare starts with a firm foundation of primary care in those major specialties. And we're void in all of those." said Dr. Mitchell.

Even in the metro area we are being told fewer doctors are accepting Medicaid and Medicare, others have decided to close up shop altogether and either retire, or practice at hospitals or other healthcare facilities.

"It is expensive to run a practice," said Dr. H. Vann Craig, Executive Director of the State Board of Medical Licensure. "The family physician generally spends 50 percent of his income simply managing his practice. If you're employed, you know, you know how much you've got coming in and somebody else is taking care of the overhead."

Governor Phil Bryant and the state legislature recognizing the severe shortage in primary care doctors, a situation that could get worse, set up an office at University Medical Center. The Office of Mississippi Physician Workforce is hoping to encourage doctors to go where they are needed.

"What we have to look at is ways to improve our access to those physicians if we can't move those physicians", said Dr. Mitchell.

Dr. Randy Easterling is a physician in Vicksburg. He talked with us about his greatest concerns.

"I want to have a contract with my patient," said Dr. Easterling. "The government and insurance companies have come in and usurped that, and gotten between me and my patients."

Great things are happening in medicine in Mississippi. UMC is building a 63  million dollar facility to increase the size of the medical school. Easterling says no one has all the answers, but he says healthcare must remain patient centered.

"We need physicians, we need dentists, we need mid-level providers. We need more nurses, we need more social workers," Easterling added. "And so we need to look at this in the context of a physician led healthcare team. And I think that's the best way to deliver healthcare."

Doctors we spoke with say they believe Mississippi leaders are being proactive in making sure patients are adequately cared for in this state even with all the changes. 

Physicians from neighboring states are seeing patients here as well.   Almost ten thousand doctors are licensed to practice in Mississippi.

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