Sarasota County

Tampa Bay area facing a severe shortage of doctors

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) - The Tampa Bay area is facing a severe doctor shortage. Hospitals throughout the region are begging the state for more funding because if this is not addressed, it could soon make it very difficult to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Wilhelmine Wiese-Rometsch was pretty busy looking for Sarasota Memorial's future doctors.

"Today I interviewed 10 exceptional applicants," said Dr. Wiese-Rometsch.

She's sorted through 3,800 applications with 100 coming in every day. But she has some strict criteria.

"Recruiting the best, the brightest and obviously individuals who have ties to Florida," said Dr. Wiese-Rometsch.

She's hoping these new residents will spend the rest of their careers here, because SMH is facing a severe shortage of physicians.

"It worries me greatly because as you can see, the demand for physicians is greater than what we really have," she said.

Here's the problem, Tampa Bay's population is booming. Doctors are retiring and not enough new doctors are coming in.

A new study by the Safety Net Hospital Alliance found that by 2025, Florida will have a shortage of 7,000 physicians.

"You could have a problem getting an appointment. So if you end up... getting pneumonia, to get some kind of disease, call your doctor's office, it may be a month before they can get you in," said SMH CEO David Verinder.

Some of the people who could be impacted the most are poor communities and the elderly.

So Dr. Wiese-Rometsch and her colleagues will keep training new graduates. She's hoping the state will provide some much needed funding for more residency programs. In the meantime, she just hopes her students someday choose to call Sarasota home.

"We are training these individuals to be our colleagues, to be down the road, our partners, to be able to take care of our parents, of our children, of ourselves, down the road," said Dr. Wiese-Rometsch.

The report also finds that Florida will face a severe shortage of heart surgeons and eye doctors.

Hospital officials feel it is important for the public to be aware of these issues, and they're doing everything they can to address this.

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