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emy of Family Physicians, and groups representing mid-level practitioners — removed the site-based restrictions on the delegation of prescribing authority, particularly the former requirement that limited delegation of prescribing privileges to 75 miles or less. “We are producing [nurse practitio-


ners] and [physician assistants] much faster than we were five or 10 years ago, and I think they will be part of the solution,” Dr. Dickey said. “But again, they come as part of a collaborative practice, so you still have to have the other pieces of the team.” Many Texas physicians have found


their own ways to cope with the loss of a rural hospital. Dr. Dimmick, the retired Wharton physician, says his clinic set up “convenient care” hours from 7 am to 9 am each weekday. Dur- ing that time, any patient could walk in without an appointment. “We were even doing that before


[the hospital closed], but I think it’s become even more important because patients can be seen the same day,” he said. “I think that helps somewhat with the fact that we don’t have an emergency room.” During its long financial decline,


the Wharton hospital reinvented it- self many times in an effort to stave off closure. In its last incarnation, it converted to a stand-alone emergency department. That didn’t work at the time, but Dr. Dimmick says that path remains the best hope for reviving the Wharton facility. The good news, he says, is that a new buyer is interested in reestablishing a stand-alone emer- gency department. Local physicians still would have to work around the VKMU YP K P_VV


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least they would have more options for patient care. “It would be a small piece of what


we used to have,” he said. “But it would be progress to have that.”Q


Sean Price is a reporter for Texas Medicine. You can reach him by phone at (800) 880-1300, ext. 1392, or (512) 370-1392; by fax at (512) 370-1629; or by email at sean.price@texmed.org.


November 2017 TEXAS MEDICINE 59


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