Statewide Doctor Shortage Impacting Rural Nevada

Aug 16, 2016

Doctor shortages in Nevada have caused critical access issues for rural communities.

Tonopah closed its only hospital last year, leaving residents 100 miles away from the nearest facility. Now health care officials are working to find solutions.

Dr. Melissa Piasecki [pee-uh-SECK-ee] is with the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, and she recently spoke with our media partner, KNPR in Las Vegas.

She says the university has adopted a program, called ECHO, to help underserved rural communities get care they currently lack.

“It’s to try and solve the puzzle of here’s a patient with diabetes, here’s a primary care provider who would like to refer their patient to an endocrinologist for specialty care, but there’s no endocrinologists,” she says.

Piasecki explains that ECHO can put endocrinologists or other specialists in touch with rural doctors through online video chats, which provide expertise in underserved areas.

But ECHO does not provide communities with physicians, something Piasecki says will continue to be a challenge moving forward.