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Recruiting physicians: Local doctors share their story (part 1)

In part one of our special series, KGNS speaks to a few local physicians about why they chose to practice in their hometown
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 10:10 AM CST
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LAREDO, TX. (KGNS) -Since the coronavirus hit last year, we’ve learned that Laredo has a lack of physicians.

From Laredo’s Health Authority to even the city manager, the need for more primary physicians has been a hot topic at several City Council meetings.

Recently, the city’s designation by the state as a medically underserved area was cited as the reason behind the low number of coronavirus vaccines sent to our area.

In searching for the answers on how to fix that, KGNS spoke to several local doctors who were each born and raised in Laredo about some of their reasons for why they chose to practice in Laredo.

Dr. Armando Gonzalez is a graduate of Alexander High School who was exposed to many aspects of healthcare while he was enrolled in the magnet program.

Dr. Gonzalez says, being able to come back and to offer something of value played a big part in why he decided to return to his hometown.

Growing up in a family of physicians, he says it gave him the experiences along the way through adolescence and going to college; seeing how his father and sister were able to positively affect their patients.

Which helped him make the decision to come back to Laredo to start up his sports medicine practice.

Dr. Gonzalez says, “I decided to come back because this is where I feel most comfortable, this is where I have my friends, my family, and no other place I’d raise a family.”

For interventional cardiologist Dr. Ricardo Cigarroa II, family also played a big role in his decision to come home.

Cigarroa II says, “We do have a young, growing family, a daughter, and a son and one more on the way, and I think the most important thing to us was where we would be happiest raising them, where they could grow up with a sense of their culture, like I did in Laredo.”

It was an opportunity for he and his wife, a pediatric cardiologist--to use their specific skill-set and training to bring new services to Laredo.

Cigarroa says, “After looking at everything, with the hope of eventually bringing those programs to Laredo where they are really needed, I think that felt really right to us.”

With benefits he says are not often found in larger hospitals.

Cigarroa says the people here are focused on helping their patients and they are happy to work hard and sometimes you don’t find that in all the hospitals in the U.S.

Laredo was lucky both Dr. Gonzalez and Dr. Cigarroa decided to come back home but Unforateanly, that hasn’t been the case for many.

Dr. Victor Trevino has been practicing in Laredo for 37 years and has been studying the numbers of primary care physicians in Laredo for the last four decades.

Dr. Trevino says, “Ideally, we should have PCPs of approximately 90 to 120 primary care providers per 100,000 citizens, so Laredo has about 97 to 107 primary care providers for 270,000, so there’s definitely a shortage of providers.”

During the past year of coronavirus, he says the lack of physicians has never been more apparent.

Trevino says, they’ve only seen about 30 physicians who see COVID patients for the three hospitals and that is not enough.

So how do we convince more physicians to come home or recruit physicians to Laredo?

In part two of our special series, we sit down with a hospital CEO who says Laredo has much to offer to any physician choosing to come to Laredo.

You can click here to read Recruiting physicians: Local doctors share their story (part 2).

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