"Midland is growing. There are lots of people here in Midland that need doctors, and we have a marked shortage of doctors to meet that need," say Dr. Robert Vogel, M.D.
Dr. Vogel, who has been practicing medicine in Midland for almost 30 years, says the shortage of general physicians isn't exactly a new problem. He adds there are probably no more than 30 general physicians practicing in the Tall City. That's nowhere near enough to meet the needs of a growing population, which was estimated to be near 114,000 over a year ago.
To make matters worse, many of those doctors aren't accepting new patients, forcing more and more people to use emergency clinics like Premier Physicians.
"We have definitely seen an increase in patients over the last year," said Audra Leonard, PA-C.
On a typical day, Leonard says they see between 80 and 90 patients. With only two PA's on staff each day, that's a lot to handle.
"Sometimes the wait times are a little longer than we would like," said Leonard. "But we do our best, and we try to get people in and out to accommodate their schedules better."
Also doing their best to help a growing community is Midland Memorial Hospital, who not only has a new patient tower to accommodate the current growth, but is already planning for more in the future.
"We're really blessed," said Russell Meyers, CEO and president of Midland Memorial Hospital. "The new hospital has more capacity. It has two additional floors beyond what we originally planned so that as the community grows we can pretty quickly...not easily or cheaply..but we can pretty quickly move forward to expand capacity if we need it."
NOTE: If you're looking for a general physician, Dr. Vogel recommends you call 68-NURSE. He also says don't go to the Emergency Room unless it's a true emergency. You can also visit an ER clinic like Premier Physicians.
PART 2: Next week, we'll take look at the impact the oil boom may be having on Odessa's emergency rooms.
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