Oklahoma facing statewide shortage of pediatricians

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Sooner State is reportedly facing a massive shortage of pediatricians and it’s not just a problem in rural towns.

“It’s across the state from southwest Oklahoma to northeast Oklahoma and it’s in our rural areas, in our urban areas. It’s a statewide issue,” said Dr. Jason Sanders, Senior Vice President and Provost of the OU Health Sciences Center.

OU Health says right now Oklahoma is short about 250 pediatricians statewide. Making it harder for some to find care.

“Our state has consistently ranked between 45th and 50th in the number of physicians per population. In the case of pediatricians, about a million children in Oklahoma and our number of pediatricians hasn’t kept up,” Sanders said.

Encouraging soon-to-be parents to start searching for your child’s pediatrician as soon as possible.

New mom Peyton Jones moved to Edmond from Tulsa while she was 8 months pregnant– thinking the pediatrician she had lined up was good to go.

“I just had a feeling about three days before I was scheduled to be induced,” Jones said. “I called just to verify one last time and make sure that they accepted my insurance and everything was set and they did not.”

Sending her on the hunt for her new baby Lizzy’s doctor just days before she was even born.

“Then I had to call two or three others, none of which accepted my insurance,” Jones said.

In the end, her hospital thankfully locating a pediatrician for her.

Sanders says in some cases, parents have to drive long distances for their child to see a doctor.

But he says the state is working on solutions.

“Just this spring the legislature made a major investment, the largest investment in the history of residency programs that expand 70 resident positions at OU,” Sanders said. “For that new mother or father, it is critical. Don’t give up, please, your investment in your child’s health and your family’s health.”

Dr. Sanders also tells us there are just four states with fewer pediatricians per 100,000 children than Oklahoma. Those are Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada and South Dakota.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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