HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Grand Strand area hospitals are putting their best foot forward when it comes to improving healthcare in the area. The struggle to match healthcare options to the growing population is being answered by Tidelands Health with a new family physician residency program, and three new medical parks.
The Tidelands Health Family Medicine Residency Program is in partnership with the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC. WMBF News first reported the program when it was announced last fall. Now, eight new residents have just completed their first month of the three-year program.
The family medicine program hopes to build itself to 24 residents. The current eight will see patients, overseen by practicing family physicians, associate program director Brintha Vasagar said. The residency will run out of the newest medical park for Tidelands Health, slated to open this fall on Holmestown Road.
The program includes a leadership and wellness program of its own for residents. The goal is to keep the residents as practicing doctors once their three-year residency ends.
"I think all of us are really enthusiastic about getting in on the ground floor of this new program…and very excited to grow the program in order to serve the needs of community. There's a huge need for primary care physicians in the community. Most of us, including myself, would like to stay here and practice medicine as we go forward," resident physician Anthony Germinario told WMBF News.
Vasagar said the hospital enjoyed the freedoms that came with creating a new type of family physician program with MUSC. The residents have already graduated from medical school, and the residency is the next step before becoming an independent, practicing doctor.
"It's part of the heart to the solution," Vasagar said when explaining the program's importance to providing quality healthcare in a medically understaffed community, compared to the amount of people living there.
About 15,000 more doctor's appointments will be available for people living in the area because of the eight new residents. Once the program reaches its full capacity at 24 residents, there could be about 45,000 more available doctor's appointments in the community.
Tidelands Health is also preparing three construction projects to address the healthcare need. The Holmestown Road Medical Park is opening this fall. A 65,000 square foot medical park for the Market Common is in the works, as well as a 46-bed inpatient rehabilitation center in Little River, Tidelands Health communication facilitator Margaret Lamb said. Groundbreaking for the Market Common project is expected in mid-August 2017.