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Finding a primary care doctor or specialist in Monterey

Finding a doctor or getting in to see the one you have has been a challenge in Monterey County, with weeks-long waits not uncommon for many people.

Montage Medical Group has been working to remedy that, recruiting more than 50 doctors and opening practices in Monterey, Marina, and Carmel. Right now, five primary care doctors at Montage Medical Group are accepting new patients.

It’s a welcome situation for Dr. Anthony Chavis, who has overseen recruitment efforts as chief medical officer for Montage Health, parent company of Montage Medical Group (MMG). The medical group is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and has made a significant impact in reducing the shortage of both primary care doctors and hard-to-find specialists. As of June, MMG included:

  • 16 primary care doctors
  • 9 cardiology specialists
  • 4 neurologists
  • 3 urologists
  • 3 pulmonologists
  • 3 gynecologists
  • 3 psychiatrists
  • 2 endocrinologists
  • 2 sleep specialists
  • 2 infectious disease specialists
  • 1 palliative medicine specialist
  • 1 physical medicine specialist
  • 1 neuropsychologist

The list includes a mix of experienced doctors and recent graduates, a few who were already practicing locally and many recruited from out of the area. Even with that healthy roster, the recruitment work isn’t done, and really won’t ever end.

“We face at least a one- to two decade-long shortage of physicians nationwide,” Chavis said.

The main challenges to recruiting doctors to the Monterey area are the high cost of living and insurance reimbursement rates that are low for an area with that high cost of living. Montage Health began its targeted effort to retain and recruit doctors more than a decade ago. It includes financial incentives that can help recent graduates pay off the mountain of debt accumulated during medical school and housing assistance. In 2018, Montage Health bought an apartment complex on Lighthouse Avenue in Monterey for rentals for doctors as well as some Community Hospital employees.

Establishing Montage Medical Group was also key, so doctors don’t have to establish or maintain their own offices and can focus on patient care. The seventh and largest MMG office, with 60,000 square feet, opened in Ryan Ranch in 2018. MMG doctors and clinicians had nearly 103,000 patient visits last year.

The recruitment effort has been financed by Montage Health and by contributions and grants to Montage Health Foundation.

“Thanks to the generous donations by friends of Montage Health,” Chavis said, “we have been able to develop attractive places for physicians to practice and thrive.”

And having those physician has helped community members thrive by getting easier access to the care they need.

To find a primary care doctor or specialist near you, visit montagemedicalgroup.org.

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