Primary Care Expansion Program At Medical Center Hospital

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9
ODESSA- With the help of a federal medicaid waiver, Medical Center Hospital is planning some major expansions to its primary care programs.
"We're looking at internal medicine, family practice, obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics. We're finding ways to get those core groups of doctors that we really need to take care of the general population and we're looking to bring those doctors into the area," says John O'Hearn, MCH's Director of Regional Development.

MCH is working to nearly double its number of primary care physicians, but it will take more than just and increase in doctors to meet the demand.

"You're going to need people that can see that many more patients and there's just physical limitations to how many people you can see in a day," adds O'Hearn.

So, there's a huge push to bring in more nurse practitioners and physician assistants. In addition to adding more providers, MCH will also be spreading new primary care and urgent care clinics around the county.

"The planning phase has already begun in terms of working on exactly what we would want them to look like, what types of clinics we'd want to do, and where they'd be located," says O'Hearn.

The emergency rooms in Ector County are busier than ever, like most emergency rooms are across the country. However, the basin has the added problem of a population boom.

"In fact, over the last month or two, the volume [in the E.R.] has increased substantially to almost double," says MCH's Dr. Bruce Becker.

"If you come in, it's going to be about three hours if we discharge you and about five hours if we admit you to the hospital," he adds.

According to MCH, for many folks, the emergency room provider continues to supplement the primary care provider, and it's only putting more stress on the system.
Moving away from treating illness and focusing instead on prevention, is going to be cheaper for patients in the long run. MCH will break ground on new clinics by 2013 and have those clinics' doors opened the following year.