Pick up Scobey, Mont., move it 100 miles in any direction, and it would still be a long way from any urban center.
a native Californian, set up shop here three years ago with his wife and two sons. Without the clinic, he says, “this town would disappear.”
tempered bulls. You can drive through town in
about two minutes, a trip that takes you past a
single flashing traffic light, the Daniels County
Courthouse and the medical clinic, a nonde-
script two-story brick building that makes the
rest of Scobey possible. “Without the clinic, this
town would disappear,” Sawdey says.
The Scobey clinic—which draws patients from
a 200-square-mile area—has 24 hospital beds,
30 nursing home beds and about 90 employees.
Everyone in town knows someone either staying
or working there. They all know Sawdey, a tall,
talkative native Californian who settled in Scobey
three years ago with his wife and two sons. He set
up shop here partly for the challenge, but mostly
because he wanted to raise his kids in a quiet,
safe town populated by trustworthy people. By
the clinic’s standard, he’s almost an old-timer.
“They’ve had a new doc here every year or year
and a half,” Sawdey says. That kind of turnover,
he says, “destroys the health care system.”
The shortage of physicians in rural areas
certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by the federal
government. In 2009 Congress earmarked $500
million for the National Health Service Corps,
a program that helps pay the student loans of
doctors who spend at least two years in “un-
derserved” areas, most of which are rural. In
March, federal officials estimated that it would
take nearly 17,000 more physicians to fill the
gaps nationwide, including 87 in Montana.
The new health care reform law takes aim at the
problem with measures that include a 10 percent
bonus to doctors who treat Medicare patients in
rural areas, and more money for rural hospitals.
Still, it’s easy to see why small towns have
article text for page
< previous story
next story >
Share this page with a friend
Save to “My Stuff”
Subscribe to this magazine