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Lakeland Regional Explores Graduate Medical Education

Friday, June 29 2012

Fulfilling Lakeland Regional Health Systems’ (LRHS) mission of providing exceptional healthcare means offering state-of-the-art facilities, treatments and technologies; hiring top-notch physicians, nurses and staff; and taking a proactive, leadership role in delivering the quality care residents in Polk County and beyond expect and deserve. 

In assessing the needs of this community, it is apparent that Polk County is in critical shortage of physicians.  Today, Polk County has only 60.7 primary care physicians for every 100,000 residents, compared to 89.6 nationally and 96.9 in Florida.  Consequently, Polk County scores worse than the nation, state, and other local counties in nearly all health outcome measures, including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke.  The lack of physician access results in Lakeland Regional housing the busiest single-site emergency department in the state, with approximately 150,000 annual visits.  All of these patients could be better treated for preventive and chronic care by primary care physicians.

As stated in the hospital’s FY2011 and FY2012 strategic plans, Lakeland Regional is addressing this community need by evaluating the feasibility of offering medical college graduates the opportunity to complete their clinical residency training (Graduate Medical Education or GME) at LRMC, thereby transforming LRMC into a teaching hospital.  Not only would these residents deliver care to the community, but many would be expected to stay after residency to establish practices in underserved areas.  

As a first step, Lakeland Regional has engaged a consultant from Germane Solutions to lead the hospital in measuring the operational effectiveness of a GME program and its potential impact on improving the already strong quality of care. Building upon this foundational strength, Lakeland Regional plans to reach new standards for healthcare outcomes and recognition.  Lakeland Regional recognizes that all of the 17 hospitals named to the U.S. News and World Report “national honor roll of top hospitals” are teaching hospitals.  The ability to combine leading edge education and research with a strong care delivery system is thought to bring the most advanced medicine to the bedside in real time. 

Lakeland Regional Health Systems is proud to offer exceptional healthcare to the community and intends to uphold that commitment.  Moving forward, Lakeland Regional will maintain a leadership position in creating a sustainable future for the health of our community.

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