It’s a blend of healing and learning that might provide better access to basic health care for thousands of Monroe County residents.
Mercy Memorial Hospital System inaugurated its Family Medical Residency Center at 650 Stewart Rd. Wednesday, offering medical care to a range of patients, “from grandbabies to grandmas,” said Dr. Susan Hulsemann, director of the new MMHS residency program.
The clinic already saw its first patients in the facility, created by renovating the former quarters of the hospital’s rehabilitation center next to the Mercy Memorial Nursing Center.
Six medical residents will join three fulltime teaching faculty Monday to start their three- year residency work. Three are from Michigan and one each from New York, North Carolina and California. Each year, six new medical residents will join the staff, meaning it eventually will have a rotating staff of 18.
Residency work is sort of like on- the- job training for doctors who have eight years of training and medical degrees but have limited experience with patients. They work under the supervision of experienced physicians for three years until they are prepared to take their medical board exams.
“ We help them learn what they need to learn to be a good practitioner,” said Dr. Hulsemann.
The clinic, which will operate much like a large group medical practice, reflects an investment of more than $ 1 million and expects to have an annual operating budget of at least that much, officials said.
Dr. Hulsemann said she expects the clinic to draw patients with a range of conditions, from those with multiple health problems to those with minor ailments.
“ We will take the worst of the worst, but by the dint of the quality of care we give, we’ll also get the best of the best,” she said.
She predicted that the center eventually could be seeing 10,000 patients annually.
The 16,000- square- foot building — once quarters for the Monroe County Health Department — has been renovated and outfitted with a reception area, spacious waiting room, a procedures room, six clinical rooms, a small lab, a large classroom, administrative offices, lunchroom and library. About 12,500 square feet now is being used, so room for growth is available.
The hospital began planning for the residency program in 2010 to address longstanding concerns that the area was medically underserved. About 2,000 patients exist in Monroe County for every primary care physician, a ratio far higher than state or national levels.
“ There is a physician shortage coming up. What better way to address that than to grow your own,” Dr. Hulsemann said.
It is hoped some residents will set up their practices here once they complete their residency training.
“It does allow you to recruit physicians,” noted Dr. Vicki Collins, one of its medical faculty.
It also turns MMHS into a teaching hospital, which sends a message about its quality of care because the hospital had to meet certain accreditation standards to be able to start a residency program.
“ When we’re a teaching center, the quality bar goes up, even among faculty on staff,” said Diana Roberts, administrative director of medical education.
“No one wants to teach a resident something that’s not correct so it pushes everyone to be their best,” she said. “It raises the level of the quality of our hospital.”
**Original story published by Charles Slat of The Monroe Evening News