The reasons behind long primary care appointment wait times
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19NEWS) -- Doctors from UVA Health say there are multiple reasons behind the lengthy primary care wait times.
Dr. Li Li and Dr. Brian Halstater from UVA Family Medicine say the past few months have been one big game of catch-up.
“We have seen an increasing number of people that we have previously taken care of by us, that stopped seeking care during the pandemic, that now are looking to re-establish care with us," Dr. Halstater said.
Along with returning patients, UVA Primary Care saw over 1200 new patients just last year. The problem of long wait times and increased demand, stems even deeper than the pandemic. It’s also due to the lack of doctors.
“It's not just UVA Health, it's the entire nation and the Commonwealth of Virginia that have a shortage of primary care physicians,” Dr. Li said.
UVA Health is working on a 10-year plan to retain more residents and future doctors through UVA's School of Medicine, but Dr. Halstater says they may still run into some problems.
“Medical school debt is a real thing, and I don’t know the exact number, but six digits of debt is not unusual for new graduates, and the challenge is still on the relative pay scale, primary care physicians are towards the bottom half of the pay scale,” Dr. Halstater said.
Last year, UVA Health hired seven new physicians, five nurse practitioners and two physician assistants for their primary care practice, and say they are doing everything they can to try to meet the demand.
If there's a delay, it is because we are seeing other patients, and we will see you as soon as we can,” Dr. Halstater said.
The doctors recommend making appointments with primary care physicians in advance to get your check-up done on time.