About 46 million Americans live in rural areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Providing access to care is a challenge for many rural communities, particularly given the fact that an increasing number of doctors are retiring in these areas. In Oklahoma, a private-public partnership is helping to recruit and replace rural physicians in the state where 76 out of 77 counties are considered professional shortage areas.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma (BCBS Oklahoma) is taking action by joining up with the Physician Manpower Training Commission to partner with: Oklahoma Medical Association, Texas County and Memorial Hospital of Texas County to deploy $160,000 of grant funding for medical school loan repayments. The repayment program is provided to doctors in exchange for locating and practicing medicine in rural and underserved communities of Oklahoma. Community leaders call it an all-hands-on-deck approach to improve access to healthcare by supporting doctors who also serve as economic engines, with each assigned doctor contributing an average of 12 jobs and $900K in wages and benefits to the local community.
In this video, meet Dr. Ivette Cuadrado, a Puerto Rican native who recently completed her advanced fellowship training in Los Angeles. She currently practices in the community of Guymon, Oklahoma. Cuadrado is bilingual, which is a critical component of improving access to this underserved rural community and its fast-growing Spanish speaking population.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. Click here to learn more about BCBS OK.