COLORADO: Doctor availability an issue in rural healthcare
By Sheridan Block
Healthcare has always been a concern for rural communities in Colorado. Unlike our urban counterparts on the Front Range, communities along the Western Slope and eastern plains have a more difficult time receiving adequate care.
A study completed in February of Colorado's primary care workforce, conducted by the Colorado Health Institute, found that the state needs approximately 250 more doctors to meet the needs of underserved populations — many of which are in rural and mountain communities.
With a population of about 4,000, Ouray County has only one medical facility that would be comparable to a hospital, though another handful of doctors and private physicians also practice in the area. However, all of these healthcare services are operating in Ridgway. Ouray's only physician recently relocated all services to Montrose. Ambulance services transport patients to Montrose Memorial Hospital, which is the closest emergency facility in the area.
Retired Montrose County physician Dr. Richard Gingery said that in terms of the number of doctors, the county doesn't need many physicians.
According to the Health Institute's report, Ouray, Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose and San Miguel counties — collectively known as "Health Statistics Region 10" — ranked