FORT MYERS, FL--Could retiring doctors create a longer wait for healthcare in southwest Florida? The medical community is concerned enough to start taking action right now.
Lee Memorial Health System expects about 113 physicians will retire within the next few years. They are starting a brand new residency program to help curb the effects of the doctor shortage, but training is not an overnight process. Many fear the medical system is going to get too bogged down.
Crystal mMcClary already feels her doctors office is way over worked, but it could soon get much worse.
"There are a lot times when we as patients feel like a number," said McClary.
5,600 of Florida's nearly 45,000 physicians are expected to retire over the next 5 years. The majority of physicians in southwest Florida are about 50 to 57 years old.
"We have got an increasingly elderly population that is particularly true here in southwest Florida," said Dr. Gary Goforth with Lee Memorial.
Right now, roughly 15 million Floridians have health insurance and with the Affordable Health Care Act, nearly 1.5 million more will have insurance and access to healthcare
"I don't feel there is enough of us either" said local advanced registered nurse practitioner Tammara Bezanson.
Bezanson says there is also a current fight to allow nurse practitioners to prescribe more kinds of medications without permission from a doctor.
"When we have to go find them or hunt them down to sign for a prescription, it is time away from our patients, we are getting behind, it is time away from their patients," sh said.
To help reduce these affects, the Lee Memorial Health System is launching a family medicine residency program.
They say hospitals usually hire more than half of the training doctors.
"So they will be in-patient medicine, pediactrics, OBGYN and surgery," said Goforth.