More than 90 percent of Missouri’s counties lack adequate access to health care professionals. At the same time, Missouri ranks among the top 20 states with citizens over the age of 65 who will require more medical care, and the number of elderly people with multiple chronic diseases is expected to double by 2030.
The need for physicians and other health care professionals is a startling — and growing — reality nationwide. Here in Missouri, that need is especially intense and immediate.
Thankfully, we have come a long way already toward addressing these realities. Health care organizations CoxHealth and Mercy Health have come together with the state’s two largest higher education institutions in unique partnerships designed to help alleviate this workforce shortage statewide.
Together, our institutions have developed training programs which would prepare dozens of additional students to enter the health care industry annually. With adequate funding, these programs would take shape in the form of a new University of Missouri School of Medicine Clinical Campus in Springfield and a Master of Occupational Therapy degree program at Missouri State University.
Last year, the state legislature approved a combined $11.3 million to keep these projects moving, but unfortunately, we still await the delivery of that funding.
We understand that there are many pressing needs competing for these dollars, leaving our public officials with many difficult decisions to make. But we strongly believe that this is a wise use of taxpayer dollars that will have a tremendous impact on the state economy. In fact, this is exactly the type of priority that should rise to the top of the list. It will help us meet the urgent health care needs of thousands of Missourians, growing the economy with new capital investment and Missouri job creation along the way.
We look forward to when these pivotal funds from the state of Missouri are released to allow for the immediate implementation of these vital programs.
Written and submitted by:
- Clifton M. Smart III, President, Missouri State University
- Timothy M. Wolfe, President, University of Missouri System
- Steven D. Edwards, President, CoxHealth
- Jay Guffey, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Mercy Hospital Springfield
- Matt McCormick, President, Columbia Chamber of Commerce
- Matt Morrow, President, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
This editorial was originally published in the Springfield News-Leader.