BARSTOW • Barstow Community Hospital is currently recruiting six types of specialists, ranging from a cardiologist to an orthopedic surgeon, according to John Rader, hospital spokesman.
Doctors like Anurag Sahai said they hope that increasing the number of physicians on staff will allow people in the community to get care at BCH instead of driving to hospitals out of town.
The hospital is looking to beef up its primary care staff — which currently has nine doctors — as well as add to its smaller departments like orthopedic surgery, which currently has one doctor.
While hospital officials declined to comment on the current status of the recruitment process, they have, in the past, acknowledged the challenges of attracting doctors to a small hospital in a rural, isolated community.
Many doctors seek out big hospitals with sprawling facilities, according to Sahai, a pulmonary, sleep medicine and critical care specialist.
Sahai, who had prior experience at both small and large hospitals, left New York in 2007 with his family when BCH specifically sought out his specialty in lung care.
When he visited BCH and met the other doctors, Sahai said he felt like working there would be a good fit, professionally.
However, with three school-aged daughters and a wife who at that time worked at Loma Linda, Sahai opted to settle his family in Apple Valley. He acknowledged that for many physicians, access to amenities like shopping, museums and professional sports games play significant factors in deciding to work at a particular hospital.
"You have to look at families," Sahai said, who also works a few days at St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley.
"They also have to overcome a mindset to come over here," said Sahai.
Shay said BCH will likely be hard pressed to recruit young doctors just coming out of residency, who are looking to start families and want things like parks, restaurants and options for schools nearby.
"It's just not there," said Shay.
On the other hand, he noted, BCH offered Shay, and other doctors, a guaranteed income for a set period of time, despite how many patients or procedures he performed.
"They've got to entice them with something," Shay said.
Sahai noted that the number of uninsured patients and low reimbursement rates in Barstow can be a drawback for doctors looking at prospective jobs.
He estimated that between 10 to 15 percent of patients that he sees daily are uninsured.
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Barstow Community Hospital is currently seeking:
• General surgeon
• Primary care
• Orthopedic surgeon