Health insurance may be nearly universal in Massachusetts, but that doesn't mean that residents always have access to the care they need. To the contrary, it's getting harder than ever to attract enough providers to keep up with the demand for primary care in general, let alone staff the state's community health centers for low-income patients.
"We call around to other practices. Sometimes we find a doctor for them, and sometimes we don't,'' Jeff Collins, MD, an internist and pediatrician at Chelsea Health Center, owned by Mass. General Hospital, recently told the Boston Globe.
But a large gift--to the tune of $20 million--aims to attract more physicians to the state and provide its neediest patients with better access to quality care. With the donation from philanthropists Robert and Myra Kraft, Boston's Partners Healthcare will help create the Kraft Family National Center for Leadership and Training in Community Health, and provide financial incentives for the recruitment of more than 100 doctors and master's degree-level nurses to practice in community health settings. A portion of the funding will also support community-based programs at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Part of the recruitment program includes up to $50,000 toward a doctor's medical school debt and up to $30,000 for a nurse's education, and funding fellowships in targeted specialties and master's degrees. In return, caregivers must work for two to three years in a health center or other community-based setting to care for needy patients.
"Myra and I, as well as our entire family, hope that the center will establish a national model to motivate the most talented doctors and nurses to practice in community health settings, where their expertise can have an immeasurable impact," said Kraft, who owns the three-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, as well as the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer.