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Clay County facing doctor shortage

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Updated: 5/02/2013 9:26 pm
ORANGE PARK, Fla.-- Lyle Fuentes is tired of driving from Orange Park to Jacksonville to see a doctor for his diabetes.

"There's no diabetes doctor here full time that I've found," he said.

Turns out Fuentes is not alone. The Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida tells Action News, Fuentes is feeling the effects of a Clay County doctor drought.

Action News obtained documents that show there is one physician for every 694 patients in Clay County, as compared to Duval County, which has one physician for every 350 patients.

Action News took those numbers to the Health Planning Council to find out why. They say a population spike is partially to blame.

"There has been some significant population growth in Clay County and it's possible that physicians moving into the county hasn't kept up at the same pace," said Nikole Helvey, program director for the Northeast Florida Health Planning Council.

Studies also show that Clay's close proximity to metropolitan Jacksonville deters docs.

"Jacksonville draws a lot of physicians into this metropolitan area and maybe not as many, especially in the more rural areas, of Clay County," said Helvey.

But new hope comes with new hospitals popping up across Clay. Both St. Vincent's and Baptist are in the process of opening medical center in the county.

Fuentes hopes the new medical centers will help draw diabetes doctors to Clay. Until then, he'll continue to go to Jacksonville for care.

"It is tough, I wish there were more out here," he said.
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