Calif. Seniors Soon Could Face a Shortage of Orthopedic Surgeons
Health care advocates in California are worried that there soon will be too few orthopedic surgeons in the state to meet the needs of an increasing number of elderly residents who require treatment for broken bones, HealthyCal reports.
Details of Shortage
Ten percent of California's population is 60 or older, but more than 40% of hospitalizations related to injuries -- such as falls, fractures and broken bones -- are among individuals in that age group.
Advocates say that as the number of California residents ages 60 or older increases, orthopedic surgeons who practice in underserved areas of the state are retiring. As a result, seniors could have trouble accessing medical treatment in rural communities and small towns, HealthyCal reports.
Modesto Program Could Be State Model
In an effort to increase the number of orthopedic surgeons, Modesto has implemented a program to train such providers and retain them in the area. According to HealthyCal, the program could be a model for other cities across the state.
Several orthopedic surgeons in Modesto are older than age 65, and the area has had trouble recruiting new surgeons, which is common in rural areas.
The five-year training program was launched by the Valley Consortium of Medical Education and currently includes two first-year residents and two second-year residents. It encourages participating physicians to establish ties within the community so that they will continue to practice in the area once their training is complete.
In addition, Modesto also established prevention programs to reduce the county's need for orthopedic surgeons.
Specifically, the not-for-profit Healthy Aging Association offers 82 weekly exercise classes throughout the area for individuals ages 50 or older, or for those with a disability. The organization also offers an eight-week program aimed at seniors who have fallen and are concerned about doing physical activity or undergoing physical therapy (Renner, HealthyCal, 7/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.