Health Care Action Team Possibly To Disband

A volunteer group of medical professionals who meet regularly to discuss issues like physician recruitment, improving collaboration to enhance health care services for area residents and how to curtail the community’s drug problem might be disbanding.

On Thursday during a Health Care Action Team meeting, Dr. Lillian Ney, HCAT chairwoman, said she doesn’t know if the group’s goal of improving physician recruitment for medical facilities in the area is still a necessity.

HCAT, which is a subcommittee of the Jamestown Strategic Planning and Partnerships Commission, was formed to focus on the impact of health care on development in the community, as well as accessible, high-quality health care for residents. Partners on the team consist of City Council members; various foundations; UPMC Chautauqua WCA; Jamestown Area Medical Associates; The Resource Center; Jamestown Primary Care; Chautauqua County Health Network; The Chautauqua Center; Mental Health Association of Chautauqua County; Workforce Investment Board; SUNY Fredonia; Jamestown Community College Nursing Program; and Chautauqua County Health & Human Services and Mental Hygiene departments.

Ney, a former cardiologist and medical director at WCA Hospital, said during a Noon Rotary Club of Jamestown meeting in September said that the idea for HCAT started when she was on the Gebbie Foundation board. She said HCAT was created to recognize the need to pursue more physicians and fill a physician shortage in the area.

In 2012, HCAT started working toward assisting medical organizations in recruiting physicians by offering an incentive grant. HCAT doesn’t recruit the physicians, but facilitates in helping to draw medical professionals to the community.

HCAT secured money from several foundations including the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, and the Sheldon and Lenna foundations. The HCAT initiative was successful in bring eight physicians to this area.

Another one of HCAT’s initiatives was to start targeting young people in high school who were interested in health care. The main impetus is to try and encourage young people to stay in the region and build a career. The program is called “Grow your Own.”

In recent years, HCAT has moved focused on the pressing public health issue — the opioid crisis in the county. In November and September 2015, HCAT was one of the main sponsors for two drug forums held at Jamestown Community College to increase awareness to the drug epidemic..

However, with the merger of UPMC and WCA Hospital in 2016 and other advancements for area medical organizations, Ney questioned whether HCAT is still needed to assist in recruiting physicians.

“Now there are bigger organizations who are able to recruit better now,” she said.

HCAT has around $70,000 in its physician recruitment fund, which Ney said would be returned to the foundations who donated it if the group is disbanded. Ney said HCAT members will continue discussing the possibility during future meetings.

Their next meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at the JAMA Riverwalk Center.