Baystate Franklin to train doctors in family medicine in response to shortage

  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield has announced plans to open a new facility to train doctors in family medicine. STAFF File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/3/2019 3:00:30 AM

GREENFIELD — Amid a chronic shortage of family medicine doctors, Baystate Franklin Medical Center has approved plans to open a facility to train more.

The residential program, where five doctors will train 12, is set to open in 2022, according to Chief Medical Officer Kinan Hreib.

Although Baystate Medical Center in Springfield runs a few residential training programs, he said, this will be Baystate Franklin’s first.

The board of trustees approved the program a couple of months ago, Hreib said. More recently, Robert Baldor, vice chairman of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, was appointed to serve as its chairman. His contract will be finalized in the coming weeks, he said.

Because residential training facilities are required to comply with a strict set of regulations, Hreib said it is likely Baystate Franklin will need to construct a new building near the hospital.

Hreib said he hopes that by training doctors in Greenfield, they will be more likely to come to Baystate Franklin to work. He added that the facility will “attract a different type of doctor,” specifically those interested in family medicine. He said family medicine doctors are the most sought after in the county.

“It opens the door to being able to include a different variety of doctors and a pool that’s available,” Hreib said.

Doctors are in relatively short supply in Franklin County, he said, as they are in many rural areas across the country. Of a population of 71,000, there is one primary care doctor to serve 1,280 people in Franklin County, according to this year’s County Health Rankings report. Meanwhile, the state average is one primary care doctor for 960 people. And only 0.5 percent of the state’s physician practices are located in Franklin County, according to state data published in 2014.

He added that demand is even higher in Massachusetts because its public health insurance plan is more inclusive than other states. About 97 percent of residents living in Baystate Franklin’s service area have insurance, according to a Community Health Needs Assessment report released by Baystate in June.

To fill gaps in providers, Hreib said he never stops recruiting doctors to work at Baystate Franklin. He said many doctors do not know about Franklin County, and are less inclined to move there to work.

“It is very difficult to recruit physicians,” Hreib said.

Reach Grace Bird at gbird@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 280.


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