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Healthcare System begins search for new physician

Posted 4/14/10 (Wed)

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

McKenzie County is fortunate to have a full healthcare system including a hospital, clinic, nursing home and wellness center. But having those facilities mean nothing if there aren’t any doctors.
Recruiting and keeping doctors is a problem that many rural communities are faced with and unfortunately, due to the loss of Dr. Orlan Jackson, McKenzie County Healthcare System (MCHS) has joined in the fight to find qualified physicians.
“The healthcare system and community have embraced Dr. Jackson during his tenure in McKenzie County. We will miss his excellent patient care and his support,” says Dan Kelly, McKenzie County Healthcare System CEO. “Dr. Jackson and his family reside in Beulah and he has decided to leave the clinic so he can have better quality time with his family.”
According to Kelly, MCHS’s goal is to have three full-time physicians and two mid-level providers. When Dr. Jackson leaves at the end of April, MCHS will have two full-time providers and one mid-level provider.
“We are currently aggressively recruiting to replace Dr. Jackson and recruit an additional physician.  During the period prior to our recruiting a replacement we will secure temporary physician coverage,” adds Kelly. “Recruiting physicians is difficult for several reasons.  First, the vast majority of North Dakota hospitals are presently recruiting primary care physicians.  Second, North Dakota has an inherent, but not deserved, negative connotation relative to its attractiveness to outside individuals.  Third, given our geographic distance, some physicians feel ill equipped to practice in a remote area where they have to maintain clinical skills and competence in many medical arenas.  Finally, there is a current shortage of primary care physicians.”
In addition to the difficulty of recruiting a physician is another concern that many new people to Watford City are faced with - where they will live.
“Recruiting and housing are concerns that we have, but although there are a lot of negatives present there are also a lot of positives,” states Kelly. “There are several positives that may give us an advantage in recruiting a physician.  First, we are one of a minority of health systems in North Dakota that has a positive operating margin.  Second, our providers get along well amongst themselves and with the system employees.  This later point is a significant positive.  Also, once individuals experience the rustic beauty of North Dakota, and realize the family and community focus which is the fabric of McKenzie County, those coming into the community find this to be a positive place to live.”
For those living in McKenzie County, it is easy to see the positive reasons for living here, with the healthcare system being one of them. Hopefully, prospective physicians and their families will find Watford City and its surrounding area to be a likable place for a lasting future.