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Senator Hyde-Smith advocated for emergency training programs

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith has advocated for the release of coronavirus emergency funding that is intended to support physician training programs, which can be used in order to strengthen and maintain a healthcare workforce in rural communities.

Along with eight colleagues, Hyde-Smith issued a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar stating that without assistance rural hospitals struggling to handle increased coronavirus cases may be forced to end their physician training programs.

There are several established or developing graduate medical education programs in Mississippi. One is at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford. 

Other locations for medical education programs include Jackson, Hattiesburg, Biloxi, Tupelo, Corinth, Meridian, Columbus, Southhaven, Clarksdale, Greenville, Gulfport, and Whitfield.

The Senators asked Azar to release $100 million from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund to support rural hospitals that train physicians. They also asked him to commit to maintaining training programs for at least 3 years.

According to a letter written by the Senators, rural hospitals have been “significantly  impacted by revenue loss” and without federal action they are “concerned that some may be forced to discontinue their physician training programs to remain open” due to COVID-19.

By doing so, they are committing immediate resources from the Provider Relief Fund to rural hospitals that maintain their current residency training programs. This helps rural hospitals who are currently training residents who will likely go into rural practices often near their training sites. They will also supply a significant portion of the future workforce by serving those hospitals.