Waiting to See a Doctor In Mississippi - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Waiting to see a doctor in Mississippi

Mikayla was referred to a neurologist January 14th, but the earliest appointment was more than 60 days later. Source: WLBT Mikayla was referred to a neurologist January 14th, but the earliest appointment was more than 60 days later. Source: WLBT
Dr. Timothy Quinn with Quinn Healthcare has referred Mikayla to numerous specialists, but the wait to see them often takes months. Source: WLBT Dr. Timothy Quinn with Quinn Healthcare has referred Mikayla to numerous specialists, but the wait to see them often takes months. Source: WLBT
Dr. Claude Brunson, the President Elect of the Mississippi State Medical Association believes UMMC's new up and coming medical school building will help retain more doctors. Source: WLBT Dr. Claude Brunson, the President Elect of the Mississippi State Medical Association believes UMMC's new up and coming medical school building will help retain more doctors. Source: WLBT
The technology is so high tech that doctors in Jackson can use a Bluetooth stethoscope to monitor the heart rate of a patient whose hundreds of miles away. Source: WLBT The technology is so high tech that doctors in Jackson can use a Bluetooth stethoscope to monitor the heart rate of a patient whose hundreds of miles away. Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Mississippi is dead last in the US when it comes to the number of doctors available for patients. Advanced medical technology and other innovations are bridging that gap. However, the reality often means you'll wait months before you'll see certain doctors.

Sixteen year-old Mikayla Whitfield and her mother Caroline Brown are nearly inseparable.
 
"I can't go to the mall by myself. I can't go to parties or anything my mom has to be everywhere," said Mikayla.
 
When Mikayla was ten years-old she suffered her first seizure. Since then, her health has not improved.
 
"She falls out everyday, she falls out or has a seizure everyday," said Mikayla's mom.
 
A doctor recently diagnosed Mikayla with postural tachycardia syndrome, that causes Mikayla to faint. However, physicians haven't been able to pinpoint exactly what's causing Mikayla's seizures.

"Sometimes you can feel it sometimes it's just out of nowhere," said Mikayla.
 
Dr. Timothy Quinn with Quinn Healthcare has referred Mikayla to numerous specialists, but the wait to see them often takes months.

"A lot of cases appointments are almost impossible and sometimes we have to send patients out of state," said Dr. Quinn.

Mikayla was referred to a neurologist January 14th, but the earliest appointment was more than 60 days later.
 
"In the case where she's waiting to go to the specialist all we can do is just keep running to the ER," said Brown.
 
According  to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the national average is 260.5 active physicians per 100,000 people, ranging from a high of 421.5 in Massachusetts  to a low of 180.8 in Mississippi.  Dr. John Mitchell is the Director of the Office of MS Physician Workforce.
Mitchell says neurology, psychiatry and dermatology are some identified specialty needs in the state. Thankfully, there's a new program at UMMC to train dermatologists.  Dr. Mitchell says they're working to educate, retain and attract more physicians.

"If we can get people into Mississippi and actually see that there are more opportunities than anticipated by the general public we usually keep those physicians," said Dr. Mitchell.
 

Dr. Claude Brunson, the President Elect of the Mississippi State Medical Association believes UMMC's new up and coming medical school building will help retain more doctors.

"At the medical school we're expanding the class size so we can increase the total number of graduates."
 
The medical community is using advanced technology to close Mississippi's doctor shortage gap. It's called telemedicine and allows doctors to see patients over the Internet. The technology is so high tech that doctors in Jackson can use a Bluetooth stethoscope to monitor the heart rate of a patient whose hundreds of miles away.
 
Telemedicine is available in 46 counties. Dr. Kristi Henderson Ph.D., is the Chief TeleHealth and Innovation Officer at UMMC and says telemedicine could benefit patients like Mikayla. For instance, a Mississippi licensed specialist out of state could assess Mikayla via telemedicine and give the family answers they need to find a solution. Henderson said telemedicine also helps doctors see more patients efficiently.
 
 "It increases their capacity so then it will hopefully shorten that difference between the time somebody can get a clinic appointment with them," Dr.  Henderson.
 
Closing the wait time to see a specialist and a cure for Mikayla is at the top of Caroline's wish list.
 
"If we had more (specialists) I think the appointments would be closer, within a week maybe, I'm pushing it within a week," said Brown.

Dr. Mitchell says as more specialties are identified and needed he hopes to help expand and create programs to train those physicians in Mississippi.

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