Rural Doctor Woes in Georgia

The number of doctors currently working in rural parts of Georgia has fallen to alarmingly low levels according to a new report.

Local health officials say unless state lawmakers take action, it may remain difficult to get doctors to move to small towns to practice medicine.

Finding enough doctors to work in small hospitals like the one in Clinch County is becoming more difficult in Georgia, and local experts don't expect any improvements any time soon.

Bill Forbes, an administrator at Clinch Memorial Hospital, says, "The doctors who are from this country are somewhat difficult to get because they're looking for places which have a little more opportunity for their families."

Hospital officials at a hospital in Lakeland agree.

David Zammit of Louis Smith hospital says, "Obviously we don't have all the amenities that an Atlanta or Tallahassee or Orlando or Miami has, but there are some things that attract physicians here."

Administrators at small hospitals around south Georgia including the hospital in Lakeland say there are many great reasons why young doctors should consider moving to a rural setting to practice medicine.

Zammit adds, "It’s cheaper to live here. You don't have the rat race to deal with. You don't have long distance to drive. One doctor just moved here and he lives across the street from the hospital."

Managers say if state lawmakers don't do something to help, these small local facilities could be under staffed, causing major problems around the state, a problem which administrators say could be prevented by recruiting more doctors to rural areas.

Doctors say the best way to increase their numbers is by passing medical malpractice reform so insurance rates could be kept stable.