What are Health Care Deserts?
There is a growing need for more primary care providers in New Jersey, with the counties most at risk facing significant health challenges and formidable barriers to expanding the medical workforce, according to an expert analysis.
“In New Jersey there are counties that have a severe shortage of primary care providers which we call ‘health care deserts,’” said Judith Schmidt, a nurse with extensive training who is CEO of the New Jersey State Nurses Association. The shortage could result in escalating health issues and unnecessary hospitalizations, she added.
A report by Rutgers University’s New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing released this spring found that primary care doctor-to-patient ratios exceed the national median in 13 of the state’s 21 counties; Cumberland, Ocean, Salem and Sussex counties have roughly half the number of providers needed to meet this target of 90 primary care physicians, or PCMDs, per 100,000 residents. Hudson and Passaic counties also fall drastically short.