The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

July 5, 2013

Mayo, Mankato Clinic prepared for primary care doc shortage

Affordable Care Act will put strain on primary care


Dr. Julie Gerndt, psychiatrist and chief medical officer for the Mankato Clinic, said they've focused their efforts on combating the shortage on recruitment.

"We continue to aggressively recruit primary care physicians to our community, and have been successful," Gerndt said. "The Greater Mankato Area is attractive to physicians; the economy, diversity, educational opportunities, geography and recreational opportunities draw interest. And we as an organization are appealing to new physicians. Most importantly, we serve a community of patients that is highly engaged and interested in its own health."

Both the Mankato Clinic and MCHS say they also tried to transition to team-based health care. The days when one doctor was the best way to go are becoming a thing of the past, they say, partly because of the shortage and partly because, in many cases, a team can provide better care.

"We have created a team approach to care that allows all team members to work to the top of their credentials and abilities," Gerndt said.

The Mankato Clinic is touting what it calls the Patient-Centered Medical Home, which it says will provide "more efficient, reliable and effective care for our patients with complex and serious health conditions. It also provides for meaningful collaboration with our patients’ community resources and care providers, including nursing homes, group homes, social services, public health and home health care providers."

Over at MCHS, they're also moving away from a one-doctor-fits-all approach.

"It's not so much 'Who's my doctor?' but 'Who's my system?'" Kutcher said. "The trend is to have a team-based model."

For the past few years, MCHS has been piloting several team-based care models that involve using nurse practitioners and physician's assistants. Dr. Gerald Kowal said they're goal is to get patients comfortable with the idea of seeing a nurse or physician's assistant for things that don't necessarily require a doctor's attention. Doing this can cut down on wait times and free up doctors for cases that require their attention.

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