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Highmark donates $1.5M to Bayhealth residency programs

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Adam Knox, regional vice president, head of commercial business for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware (left), presents a check to Lindsay Rhodenbaugh, president of the Bayhealth Foundation. | PHOTO COURTESY OF BAYHEALTH

DOVER — Bayhealth has received a $1.5 million grant from the Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware to support its burgeoning graduate residency programs.

This is the second grant the insurance company has awarded Bayhealth to support its new residency program. Back in 2020, Highmark Delaware awarded a $98,000 grant through its BluePrints for the Community fund.

“The partnership we have built with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware and their continued generosity are meaningful to our physician residents and everyone involved with Bayhealth’s [residency] programs as they support our mission to strengthen the health of our community, one life at time by improving access to care,” Bayhealth Foundation President Lindsay Rhodenbaugh said in a statement.

“Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware is excited to build on its well-established partnership with Bayhealth through this grant,” Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware President Nick Moriello added. “Our organizations recognize that we must go beyond the traditional payer-provider relationship to improve health outcomes and we look forward to the difference we can make together by bringing health professionals to Delaware. This is not only to address the workforce shortage, but to ensure we have the talent, skills and expertise to best serve our communities.” 

Bayhealth has been proactive in heading off a projected physician shortfall in southern Delaware, as it announced it would launch a residency program back in 2019. The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts that the United States could experience a shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians by 2034, including shortfalls in primary and specialty care.

Based on census figures, the number of patients could be growing as southern Delaware continues to age. Kent County’s 65 and older population is expected to grow by 25% by 2035, while Sussex County is expected to grow 37% in the same time period.

In the summer of 2021, Bayhealth welcomed its first cohort of residents, eight in family medicine and eight in internal medicine. The Kent County-based health care system also plans to launch general surgery and emergency residency programs in the next two years.

Bayhealth also plans to invest $19 million in these residency programs, with most of the expense earmarked for Bayhealth’s Kent Campus, with $4.6 million targeted for a clinic at the existing Family Medicine Office on South State Street. Another $2.5 million is planned for a lab simulation and $2.2 million for academic offices.

At Bayhealth’s Sussex Campus in Milford, $3.4 million will be used to create on-call rooms for the residency program.

“We appreciate their partnership in helping us with recruitment of students to become general surgery residents and to recruit faculty to train those residents,” Bayhealth General Surgeon and General Surgery Program Director Bradford Mitchell said. “We will be able to recruit faculty that can provide state-of-the-art training and care to our patients, helping to eliminate the disparity of care that occurs when patients won’t or can’t travel outside our area for needed surgery.”

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