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SGMC Sees Growth Across Physician Network

Posted on: September 28th, 2021

Unequaled access to quality healthcare is one of South Georgia Medical Center’s main priorities, of which the system is making vast headway. Since officially organizing in 2020 SGMC’s Physician Network has more than doubled in its number of physicians and tripled in its number of specialties.  

According to Jim Zacharias, SGMC Vice President of Network Development, this is a result of enhanced partnerships with outstanding long-time community physicians and recruitment of the very best doctors to join the region.  

A physician needs analysis conducted in 2017 showed 28 percent of adults in SGMC’s service area did not have a regular physician. This same report showed that the percentage of adults with high blood pressure, high body mass index, and diagnosed with diabetes in the area eclipsed both the state and national averages.  

In response to these findings, SGMC established a robust Physician Network, which has grown to include seven primary care locations in Lowndes, Berrien, and Lanier counties with 17 physicians specializing in Family Medicine or Internal Medicine. According to Zacharias, “More primary care providers means a decreased wait time for new patient appointments, and more availability in general for patients to get appropriate guidance for managing their health and wellness.” 

Additionally, the network includes more than 40 specialists to ensure patients do not have to leave the region for their care. Zacharias says traveling to receive medical care is expensive and emotionally and physically taxing for patients and their families. By having a vast array of specialists in the area, SGMC offers enhanced collaboration between primary care physicians and specialists, which leads to better outcomes for patients. 

Another important part of this equation expected to impact physician access for decades to come is SGMC’s partnership with Mercer University School of Medicine to launch an Internal Medicine Residency Program. SGMC is on track to have medical students on campus as early as January of 2022, and residents beginning in July 2022. 

When at capacity in 2024, 24 physicians will be completing their residency training at SGMC at any given time. In addition to inpatient coverage, the residency program will include a continuity clinic. This serves as a low-cost primary care clinic and is an integral portion of internal medicine training as it allows residents to learn how to manage both common and complicated outpatient conditions and to follow patients longitudinally over time. 

“We are excited to experience this type of growth in the physician recruitment arena. These physicians can choose to go anywhere and they’ve chosen SGMC,” said SGMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Dawson. “The culture and energy behind the residency program from current physicians, applicants, and staff are invigorating. This is truly a pivotal moment in our history.” 

For a complete list of providers at SGMC, click here.