CRESCENT CITY, Calif. — In an effort to give rural areas better access to health care, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration is awarding Sutter Health a $750,000 grant to launch a new residency and training program in Del Norte County.
The grant will allow Sutter Health to create a Family Medicine Rural Residency Training Track at Sutter Coast Hospital that pairs with Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital’s existing Family Medicine Residency Program. Residents in the Rural Residency Training Track will receive training in Santa Rosa's urban academic medical center for their first year and will then move to Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City to get experience working in a rural hospital for another two years.
“Among the most important steps we can take to improve access to healthcare in rural communities is to invest in growing the rural healthcare workforce,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson in a press release.
According to the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps website, Del Norte County has a lower ratio of primary care providers to patients than other areas across the state. Del Norte County has a ratio of 1,740 individuals to 1 primary care physician, while the ratio throughout the state of California is 1,280 to 1.
“By adding this residency program in Del Norte County, we can help address the shortage of family medicine providers that is being felt disproportionately in rural areas," said Brian Alexander, CEO of the Sutter Health Valley Area hospitals in a press release. "We are working to strengthen the physician pipeline throughout our integrated network, so our patients receive the same high-quality care no matter what community they live in.”
More broadly, the grant Sutter Health will receive is part of the government health agency's $21 million multi-year initiative to grow the physician workforce in rural areas.