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Rural Health Care

December 10, 2007

Why Rural Health Care?

Western New York's rural areas share in the challenges facing most rural regions across the U.S. – physician shortages, resource-strapped small hospitals, and high levels of uninsured and underinsured. In Western New York, primary care for members of vulnerable populations is scarce and unpredictable, with oral care even harder to find. The prospect of hospital closures appears to further reduce rural Western New Yorkers' access to care. Across the U.S., there are examples of collaborative networks that connect patients to hospitals and physicians and pool resources to attract new investment and services to these areas. Other regions are using telemedicine and information technology in innovative ways. How can Western New York build on its strengths and adopt elements of these success stories?


Paul S. Frame, MD, Tri-County Family Medicine, Cohocton, NY
A full-time rural family physician, Frame has practiced with Tri-County Family Medicine in Cohocton, NY for the past 33 years. He has had a career-long interest in evidence-based preventive medicine and the implementation of preventive services in practice. He published one of the first evidence-based critical reviews of clinical preventive services in 1975. He was a member of the United States Preventive Services Task Force from 1992-2004 and has been a member of the Institute of Medicine since 1988. Frame is also a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, NY. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and completed his Family Practice residency at the Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, NJ.

Jeffrey A. Stearns, MD, Associate Dean of the Milwaukee Clinical Campus of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Director of Medical Education for Aurora Health Care
In his current capacity with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Stearns oversees extensive undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education offerings, including those for the largest health care system in Wisconsin. He previously served as Associate Chairman of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin. Stearns also serves on the advisory board of Wisconsin Academy of Rural Medicine, a recently formed rural physician development program at the university. From 2000-2004, he served as the project manager for a federal contract awarded to the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine to develop a Family Medicine Curricular Resource. He is published in the areas of ambulatory and rural medical education. Stearns' experience in rural medicine began in 1977, when he joined Tri-County Family Medicine in Dansville, NY. His primary practice setting was in a converted fire hall in Wayland, NY. As a rural family doctor, his practice comprised the full range of primary care medicine – from obstetrics and pediatrics to home visits to elderly patients. In 1984, Stearns relocated to Rockford, IL, where he joined the faculty of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford, following four years of suburban practice. There he served as director of the Rockton Health Center, an outpatient teaching practice where medical students participate in a longitudinal, ambulatory, primary care experience. Stearns took over the leadership of the college's Rural Medical Education Program (Illinois RMED) in 1996 and spearheaded the development of a network of collaborating rural hospitals, family medicine preceptors and community sponsors to facilitate students' rural clerkships. Stearns graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1974 and completed a family practice residency at Hunterdon Medical Center, Flemington, NJ.

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