St. Joseph Health Receives $500K to build a residency program

Eureka, Ca., (KIEM)- St. Joseph Hospital Eureka has received a $500,000 grant to help kick-start their residency program. The money comes from the California Office of Statewide Planning and Development’s Song-Brown Workforce Training Act.

“Song-Brown seeing the shortage of graduates in medical education, specifically primary care residencies, they’ve established this fund to help communities like ours establish residencies.” Paul McGinty the Vice President of Philanthropy at St. Joseph explains.

The grant funds are administered by a 15-member advisory board, and the application process was competitive.

“I like that this is bigger than just the hospital. It felt like we were fighting for the community.” McGinty says, “This wasn’t about winning a gift to buy a piece of equipment. This was about the whole community coming together.”

That’s because the the residency program will help draw much needed doctors to Humboldt County. “I’ve actually been involved in resident education most of my career, so it’s exciting for the physicians here to have an opportunity to bring young physicians in to take care of our community.” Dr. Roberta Luskin-Hawk, St. Joseph Health Humboldt’s newly minted Chief Executive says, “In this community its especially important because we simply do not have enough primary care physicians.”

Establishing new residency programs can be costly on the front end. St. Joseph is set to spend close to $80,000 in the program’s first year and up to a million dollars after that. “When you enter into this its really often for the greater good, but more important than that, you don’t get paid until you’re an accredited program and you have residents here for a while. Then some reimbursement starts to come in.” Luskin-Hawk explains.

That makes this grant a major boon for the hospital, as they drained general funds to seed the fledgling program. Once it grows, it will serve more than just the hospital (addressing the physician shortage crisis), and as Luskin-Hawk explains it may improve the medical scene overall in Humboldt County. “[Residents] really create an environment that stimulates intellectual pursuits and the life long learning that you want to see in the medical community.” She says.