Largest local healthcare provider to open first-of-its-kind program

Largest local healthcare provider to open first-of-its-kind program

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The largest health care provider in Horry and Georgetown Counties, Tidelands Health, is growing to meet a need for doctors in our area.  Tidelands Health broke ground Monday on a new facility that will bring at least ten new doctors to the area, and give hundreds better access to health care.

The $11 million dollar facility will home The Tidelands Health MUSC Family Medicine Residency Program, as well as a family physician's practice.  The residency program was created in partnership with MUSC in Charleston.

Dr. Brentha Vasagar is the associate program director.  She said Tidelands reached out to MUSC when a need for resident and physician support became too strong to ignore.  Dr. Vasagar said this first-of-its-kind residency program is created to teach skills not taught in medical school, and was also created to support the mental health of doctors.  She said this is the first family medicine residence program at Tidelands, and the first nationwide.

The program is broken in to two parts - one is leadership training.  This part teaches how to run a practice and how to be a voice for the patient.  The second part is a wellness program for the doctor's health.  The wellness side was created in response to an increase in physicians becoming burnt out in their careers and an increase in suicide among doctors.

While the program is a first, it's also part of a larger study.  A 'control group' residency is happening also in partnership with MUSC in Charleston.  Dr. Vasagar said the effects and quality of each will be studied long-term.  She said the hope is to grow the program to other hospitals in the future.

Dr. Vasagar said Tidelands is looking for a certain type of resident, "not just competent physicians but high-quality physicians that can be leaders within their networks."

The residency program at Tidelands will accept eight people.  Family medicine physicians are different than family medicine doctors because they're broadly trained.  Physicians can deliver babies and specialize in various types of medicine, unlike a general family doctor.

"They knew this was the second fastest growing area in the country, so they knew we'd need more family physicians," Dr. Vasagar said.

The hope is the eight residents will become involved in the community and stay after the three year program is over.  As Tidelands Health continues to grow, she said she hopes to more closely meet the needs of the people living in Horry County.  Right now, both Horry and Georgetown Counties are growing so rapidly, the health care field is not keeping up.

"We do hope to attract a really high level of residents.  People who want to change the world, people who are going to be really involved in their community, who are going to be leaders…and starting a new program, being the first of something, being really able to have an impact…we think we're going to attract a great group," she said.

The building will be located at 4320 Holmestown Road in Horry County.  Construction has started on the new building and is expected to be finished by October 2017.

Residents will start the program in July 2017.

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