PHILADELPHIA — This morning, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, with the support of the University of Pennsylvania Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, released a report on the state of primary medical care in Philadelphia, Staying Healthy: Access to Primary Care in Philadelphia. This report found that while the total number of primary care providers in the city continues to rise, some neighborhoods–the Northeast and Southwest Philadelphia–have a significantly lower supply of primary care providers than other parts of the city.
In a city with more than 30 hospitals and five medical schools, it might seem that proximity to basic health care would not be a problem.
But the new report finds that parts of the Northeast and Southwest are officially “primary care shortage areas,” with one provider for every 3,500 people, far below the citywide average of one per 1,200 people.
By Pat Loeb
Currently, there is a six-month wait for a doctor’s appointment, said Joan Bland, the clinic’s director and a nurse. For a walk-in, there is at least a half-hour wait to see a health-care provider, she said. The clinic is adding patient exam rooms in the basement, and has hired more nurse-practitioners to help with the patient load.
The clinic is in an area rich with diversity. There are 12 interpreters on staff for patients who speak Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Hindi, and Urdu, among other languages. Six staff members, who all speak at least two languages, help patients set up insurance, Bland said.
By Mari Schaefer
If the place had the feeling of bursting at the seams, it’s because it is – Health Center 10 is by far the busiest of the eight primary care health centers run by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. It sees 67,000 patient visits a year, and new patients add their names to a long waiting list for appointments. City clinics treat patients regardless of insurance status — making them the only option for many families. On Tuesday, the sound of a construction crew hammering away in the basement reverberated through the building – an effort to expand the number of exam rooms spaces.
By Nina Feldman
The study released on Tuesday by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health indicates that while the total number of primary care providers in the city continues to rise, some neighborhoods — the Northeast and Southwest Philadelphia — have a significantly lower supply of primary care providers than other parts of the city.
This shortage means that these areas, commonly low-income and with high proportions of racial and ethnic minorities, are forced to wait longer to see their primary care providers for routine appointments. For residents who utilize Medicaid as their health insurance, this report finds that many providers who accept Medicaid as insurance nonetheless do not make appointments available for Medicaid patients.