New hires expected to relieve shortage of doctors in county

MIDDLEBURY — Porter Medical Center is in the process of introducing seven new family practice physicians and a new Advanced Practice Registered Nurse to its roster, a move that will soon relieve some of the demand from new patients who must currently look for such services outside of Addison County.
Every Porter primary care practice in Addison County is closed to new patients, as are the two doctors’ practices that don’t fall under the Porter Medical Center practice umbrella: Mountain Health in Bristol and Middlebury Family Health.
Any newcomers to Addison County who are looking for a primary care physician must now look to Neshobe Family Medicine in Brandon or beyond.
Porter currently has approximately 40 primary care providers — ranging from cardiologists to midwives — based in 10 practices that accommodated a combined total of more than 87,000 patient visits during fiscal year 2011. Those health care professionals have been so busy that they have been unable to take on new patients for several months.
At the same time, Addison County patients have seen some familiar physicians retire or switch jobs. Doctors Maja Zimmermann and Sepi Bazel, along with Nurse Practitioner Alison Parker, have left Addison Family Practice (or soon will) to either retire or take new jobs; Doctors Rebecca Adams and Mattie Towle have announced their resignations from the Little City Family Practice in order to work elsewhere; and Doctor Kevin Mulholland has resigned from Bristol Internal Medicine to become a hospitalist.
Porter President James Daily said some of the physicians are leaving as a product of their spouses finding new jobs.
“The key issue now has been what your spouse does,” Daily said. “The ‘trailing spouse’ is something much more complex now in the retention equation.”
And primary care physicians aren’t having much of a problem finding new jobs, nationally and internationally.
“Primary care providers are very mobile and they have a very mobile job market,” said Jean Cotner, vice president for Porter practice management.
Ron Hallman, Porter’s vice president for development and public relations, noted times have changed from a few decades ago when physicians would come in, invest in a property, hang up a shingle and commit to working their entire career in one spot. The docs these days are more mobile and can often take their pick of assignments.
“They are in tremendous demand and they have a lot of options,” Hallman said. “They have these great opportunities. It is probably a reality we are going to be dealing with moving forward.”
Thankfully, Porter Medical Center is perceived by relocating physicians as among the great opportunities, according to Cotner. Porter enjoys, among other things, a reputation as a well-managed and technologically advanced community hospital. It is located in a Vermont county with good quality of life with proximity to Middlebury College, along with easy access to more diverse job opportunities in Burlington.
Cotner said all of these “pros” made her task easier when she began recruiting physicians around a year ago. Around 24 applicants submitted resumes, from which Porter selected eight. The incoming physicians include:
•  Anna Benvenuto, M.D., who will join Addison Associates in OB/GYN on Aug. 1. She graduated from Middlebury College with a BA in Biology, then went to UVM for her medical degree and her OB/GYN residency program.
•  Michael Csaszar, M.D., who will join Addison Family Medicine on Aug. 27. He graduated from Middlebury College and then completed his Family Practice Residency at Providence Milwaukee.
•  Robin Frantz, APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse), who joined Addison Family Medicine on Feb. 22. She received her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Stony Brook University in New York.
•  Karen Fromhold, M.D., who will join Little City Family Practice on Aug. 27. She attended UVM Medical School and its Family Practice Residency program. She also volunteered with the Peace Corps in Honduras.
•  Emily Glick, M.D., who will join Bristol Internal Medicine on Aug. 13. She received her B.A. from Barnard College-Columbia University, and attended UVM Medical School and its Family Practice Residency program.
•  Daniel Huber, M.D., who will join Little City Family Practice, and Deborah Huber, M.D., who will join Addison Family Medicine — both on July 30. The husband and wife both attended the St. Louis University School of Medicine and the Mid Hudson Family Practice Residency, Kingston, N.Y. They were both in private practice in Connecticut.
•  Jennifer Kaufman, M.D., who will join Little City Family Practice on Sept. 1. She received her Medical Degree from Saint Georges University in Grenada and completed her Family Practice Residency at UVM.
Cotner said the new physicians will be given a chance to get used to their new surroundings and jobs, at which time PMC will publicly advertise new slots for prospective patients.
“Obviously, the reason we are doing this is to serve the community and be able to make primary care access available again — that’s the goal,” Hallman said. “We will make (available patient slots) known at the earliest opportunity.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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