In a previous post, I reported the impending closure of the Toledo Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program which will have huge implications in the delivery of primary care and Family Medicine in that community.
Holly Dickman, DO is a recent graduate of the program. She reached out to me to share her story and to share her perspective, being on the ground there in the Toledo community. My questions are in bold below. Here is Holly's story, in her own words...
1) My first question is about Family Medicine in general. How did you come to choose Family Medicine as your specialty and residency? Why do you love Family Medicine, and why is Family Medicine care important to the Toledo community?
I chose Family Medicine because I wanted to know the full picture and learn a patient's entire story, not just a chapter of it. Going to an osteopathic school also made me value primary care what I could do for patients on a daily basis. I love the challenge of Family Medicine: Every patient is something completely different from the one before. I will see a newborn followed by a 92 year old patient. Reminds me of the complexity and wonder of medicine on a daily basis.
2) Tell me (and my audience) about how your learned about the closure of the program.
I am an alumni of the program (graduated July 2016). I was informed by current residents and employees. I then learned the news from an article in the local paper.
3) What is your reaction to this announcement?
Watching it as an alumni: Disbelief, shock, overwhelming sadness, and fear
4) In your opinion, why is it important for the Toledo Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program to remain open?
There are so many reasons, but will choose my top two. First, the service provided to the community. This program delivers high quality care to a mainly low-income and underserved population that not many other practices can accommodate at this time. In a world where insurance companies are changing how they pay doctors, not many practices will take in these patients who tend to be "non-compliant" due to lack of funds, transportation, etc. These patients will fall through the cracks without these residents, faculty, and staff caring for them. The staff at this residency program take patient care personally. That won't be the standard of care if these patients get relocated to another practice.
Secondly, Toledo is in dire need of Family Physicians. The Ohio Department of Health identified Lucas County as one of four counties in Ohio that are a "priority" due to their Healthcare Professional Shortage (see link, page 40). Losing this residency program means losing a source of Family Physicians to the area thereby increasing that deficit instead of acting to solve the problem.
5) What kind of response would you like generated from the local community, the residency program, alumni, and the Family Medicine community in general?
I would like the community to understand what this decision means. Loss of high-quality care to those who cannot otherwise receive that care. Fewer Family Doctors in the area in the future. Physicians, nurses, medical assistants, support staff, pharmacists, social workers, behavioralists, and so many more who are losing their jobs. A job that they are truly passionate about. A job that affects so many others in the community on a daily basis.