Local News

Doctor shortage in El Paso County

Too many patients, not enough doctors

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - El Paso County has one of the worst primary care doctor shortages in the state, according to a newly released study.

Data from the Colorado Health Institute shows a healthy resident-to-doctor ratio would be 1,900 to one. To meet that, El Paso County would need an additional 120 doctors.

The shortage encompasses all of the county, especially small communities. One medical expert in Calhan said in those communities, location and affording a physician are the problem.

"The ability to afford a physician, because we take care of a lower income population and therefore have lower reimbursement rates, and location makes it a little less desirable, I believe, for highly skilled, highly trained professionals," said Renae Crawford, a family nurse practitioner who runs Eastern Plains Medical Clinic.

The study came as no surprise for El Paso County Medical Society Executive Vice President Mike Ware, He said it simply put data behind what was already known. He said there are several reasons why the shortage exists, from lack of a residency program, to a bad reputation.

"(There's) a reputation that Colorado Springs isn't a great place to practice medicine or get health care treatment, and that's really false, but it is the reputation," Ware said.

He said one of the best solutions to fix the shortage in El Paso County is to talk about the positive medical programs in the community like those at Penrose and Memorial hospitals.

The study showed Teller County also has a shortage of doctors. Pueblo County, on the other hand, has one of the best resident-to-doctor ratios in the state.

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