Hospitals hopeful expansions will attract more doctors

Dr. Garry Pearson of St. Mary’s Jefferson City Medical Clinic, listens as patient Iola Potts of Tipton goes through her list of questions in April. Potts was a patient at the Tipton clinic, but drives to Jefferson City to see her favorite doctor.

Dr. Garry Pearson of St. Mary’s Jefferson City Medical Clinic, listens as patient Iola Potts of Tipton goes through her list of questions in April. Potts was a patient at the Tipton clinic, but drives to Jefferson City to see her favorite doctor. Photo by Julie Smith.

Hospital officials in the Capital City are devising plans to attract physicians to their hospitals in the wake of a projected shortage of doctors.

They say expansion of their facilities will attract physicians, as well as prepare the health facilities for other implications brought on by the Affordable Care Act.

Capital Region Medial Center announced in May a $35 million expansion to its main Jefferson City campus at 1125 Madison St.

The expansion will add 115,000 square feet to the existing hospital, increasing space by a third.

Ground will be broken on the project in early fall, and the expanded facility will open in spring 2015.

Ed Farnsworth, president of CRMC, said expansion is partly because of the changing landscape of health care.

He said CRMC hopes to recruit physicians, especially specialists and primary care physicians, to the community. The increased space will allow for 30-35 additional physicians, increasing hospital staff by nearly 100 employees.

He also said because CRMC is affiliated with University of Missouri Health Care, the hospital is working to recruit more physicians from the university.

Tom Luebbering, vice president of finance at CRMC, said health care additions bring in more, higher-class physicians to the area.

“Anything you can do to make it (the community) more attractive,” he said. “If you can put a doctor in a nice building with nice equipment, that’s just another plus of trying to bring them to the community.”

St. Mary’s Health Center is currently building a new $200 million facility at Highway 179 and Mission Drive. Construction on the facility began in July 2012 and is expected to be completed in late 2014, with the hospital relocating from its current site at 100 St. Mary’s Medical Plaza in January 2015.

“These are investments that bring folks that are well-educated, that demand a good salary,” said Tony Houston, executive vice president and chief operating officer with St. Mary’s. “They’re very strong job creators. We keep people employed for a long time because it takes a lot of effort to keep these things running all hours of the day, all days of the year.”

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