Floyd County Medical Center looking for pediatrician, internal medicine physician
By Bob Steenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Floyd County Medical Center is looking to give area residents two more reasons to get their health care close to home.
The county hospital and clinic announced Thursday that it has started efforts to recruit a pediatrician and an internal medicine physician to join the staff.
Rod Nordeng, medical center administrator, said the medical staff and the board of trustees recognized that some people are going elsewhere for medical care because they want their children to see a pediatrician, or they have more complex adult medical conditions that require the care of an internist.
The clinic and hospital currently are staffed by five family practice doctors as primary care physicians, along with nurse practitioners, physicians assistants and a general surgeon.
“We recognize that we do lose some pediatric patients to other communities,” Nordeng said. Then, when those families are traveling to another facility for their children’s care they may decide to have all their health care taken care of there.
Dr. David Schrodt, medical staff president at the medical center, said the pediatrician and internal medicine physician will provide primary care, but, importantly, will also be available to consult with the family medicine physicians at the medical center.
He said there are a significant number of times when the family practice physicians require a consult in pediatrics or internal medicine and they have to send their patients elsewhere to get that.
“If we can do that locally that would be much more convenient for the patient as well as the care provider,” Schrodt said.
“Trying to get consults in those areas in either Mason City or Waterloo, even Mayo Clinic, takes forever,” he said. “It’s not infrequently where the consult won’t happen for months.
“So, having good established primary care family practice that does obstetrics and then expanding to whatever we can do to have pediatrics and an internal medicine doctor so we can get consults quickly — days even as opposed to months — improves the efficiency of the entire health care experience for patients,” Schrodt said.
“Our goal is to make the entire health care experience more efficient for the patient that chooses to come to us. We do want to make ourselves the go-to place here in North Central Iowa,” he said.
Nordeng said it could take months or even a couple of years to find a pediatrician and internal medicine physician who are the best fit with the medical staff and the community.
“Nationally there is a significant shortage of internal medicine physicians, so this is estimated to be the more difficult of the two positions,” he said.
Nordeng said the medical center is positioning itself well for the future.
Even though none of the current physicians has announced any plans to retire, he said, “we also recognize things can happen … and things can change very quickly.”
He noted that Dr. Michelle Im has been hired as a family medicine physician to begin practice in September, and Dr. Janean Wedeking has been hired as a family medical physician to begin practice in 2024 when her service in the Air Force ends. Wedeking will also work in Charles City during leaves and vacation time.
Nordeng said the medical center is also interested in another family medicine doctor who could begin in 2022 if they reach an agreement to hire him.
Schrodt said none of his fellow doctors has mentioned retiring, and “I don’t see myself doing that for over a decade.”
“But planning for the future starts now,” he said. “I guess that’s what we’re wanting to do so that 10 years down the line when some of us have retired and others are looking at retiring we have in place physicians that have already become established and can carry on for us.
“I think doing it in a methodical fashion like we’re doing it is the best way to do that. To me, family practice is most satisfying if you stay one place forever. … And I’d like to have physicians here continuing to want to work here forever.”
Nordeng said, “We are very fortunate to have physicians who are so committed to the community,” adding that staff longevity is a selling point in recruiting new medical professionals.
Nordeng said that with the decision to look for a pediatrician and an internist, efforts to recruit additional family practice physicians have ended for now, other than the one they are still looking at for 2022.
With the addition of other nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the past couple of years, and with Dr. Im starting in the fall, the medical center is also “placing a hold” on hiring additional NPs or PAs at this time.
Part of that has to do with space available in the clinic, Nordeng said.
“That building goes back to 1970, and it’s certainly served us well for, what, five decades now. But for us to continue to grow and then also to provide efficient services, I have been foreshadowing with the community and the county that we will need to look at a new clinic building,” he said.
Nordeng said that project “will be several years out,” because of the need to plan for it, design it and budget for it.
Although current recruiting efforts are designed to keep and increase the patient numbers for the medical facility, Nordeng said, some progress has been made in that area already.
He pointed to recent statistics showing that in 2019 the medical center clinic had visits by 1,084 additional new patients from within Iowa, and 28 from other states.
New patients are defined as people who had never been to the clinic before or who hadn’t been there for at least three years.
“We’re very pleased to see the numbers,” Nordeng said. “We continue to grow.
“We recognize in a smaller community setting that oftentimes new patients are based on referrals because individuals talk to others and if they’re sick, they may talk to the neighbor, they may ask a parent where they go,” he said.
“For us that speaks volumes about the physicians, the advanced practice providers we have and the entire clinical staff.”