12,000 Lose Primary Care Doctors In Amarillo

Dr. Brian Weis, Texas Tech University Health Science Center
Dr. Brian Weis, Texas Tech University Health Science Center

Megan Moore
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Thousands of people in Amarillo are scrambling to find a family doctor as local doctors leave their private posts.

This is no longer just the plight of outlying areas of the Panhandle.  The primary care/internal medicine doctor shortage is getting more and more dire right here in Amarillo.

Like an estimated 12,000 other people in Amarillo, Kendall Frost could not find a primary doctor.

She says, "it was really frustrating because I was trying to figure out what I needed to do, where I needed to go, I also needed to see if I could find classes."

She finally found one, but it took months.

Over the last two years, more primary care doctors have been leaving their practices for jobs at hospitals or in specialties, and leaving patients without continued care.

The effect is felt deep in the city.

Bill Ledford, a nurse practitioner at Care Today Clinics, says "it's putting a larger strain on physicians in the mid levels we have, but it's also creating a task on the people we have as far as being able to provide that care."

So, let's talk about possible alternatives for patients.  Dr. Brian Weis, an internal medicine doctor at Texas Tech, says "that's a problem. There's not many. For a lot of them, they desperately search for other physicians to take them, so those docs are still working here, but are getting overloaded with patient demands."

Dr. Weis says that sends people to the ER for non-emergency matters.

But Ledford says that is where he comes in.  He says his clinic can offer patients continued care the ER cannot.

Dr. Weis says by 2020, the nation as a whole will face a 200,000 primary care doctor deficit.