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State Journal

The July edition of Medical Economics magazine contained what might be a surprise to a lot of West Virginians.

The publication named the Mountain State as one of the 10 best places for physicians to practice. West Virginia ranked ninth on the list.

The positives the article listed included the state’s relatively low unemployment rate, which was 7.5 percent at the time the magazine was published. That was well below the national rate and the rates of neighboring states at the time.

Another positive was that the state saw income increase in 2008 as opposed to decreases in the rest of the nation. The magazine quoted a recruiter who said some annual compensation packages for doctors who come to West Virginia run $200,000 to $225,000.

Meanwhile, Medical Economics lists the state’s median annual primary care compensation at $151,500, which was the lowest listed in the article.

West Virginia came in just ahead of Alaska, which was ranked at 10. The rest of the list was:

8. Alabama

7. Minnesota

6. Oregon

5. New Hampshire

4. North Dakota

3. Indiana

2. Wisconsin

1. Texas


Although West Virginia made the list, the article did mention some negatives about practicing here.

“Despite reforms in 2001, malpractice liability insurance rates, while on the downward trend, are still some of the most expensive among the 10 Best Places to Practice,” the journal said. “The state is also gradually enacting a number of corporate and income tax reforms, which add to an already higher than average tax burden, according to the Tax Foundation.”

West Virginia’s malpractice insurance rate listed in the article at $20,528 to $23,057 per year. The only other state on the list that comes close is Texas, which as a rate range of $8,839 to $31,668. The median rate in Texas, however, is $16,674.

Medical Economics lists Beckley as the “Best town you’ve never heard of.”

Dominion Post

Section: Opinion

August 19, 2009

Clash over scope of optometrists needs to be reworked in Legislature

It’s no surprise that optometrists and ophthalmologists didn’t see eye to eye on former House Bill 2978.

Though this bill, which relates to the practice of optometry, will probably reappear in next year’s regular legislative session with a different number and different language, it’s still out of focus.

State optometrists argue that allowing them to practice what they are “trained” to do will not only provide better access to eyecare, but will make it more affordable.

Ophthalmologists claim that optometrists want to perform surgery without proper training, let alone a medical degree.

As nearly 80 million baby boomers begin to become Medicare-eligible, health care workforce and access issues rise to the top of policy makers’ agenda, coinciding with the Academy’s own initiatives. An Institute of Medicine (IOM) report released this month points to a shortage of practitioners serving older people. To improve ophthalmologists’ ability to keep up with the growing eye health needs of society, an Academy-produced white paper series (member login required) considers the best practices for high patient throughput in three practice types:

March 1 was the deadline for Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS) accreditation for any new physician practices or new office locations, including ophthalmologists’ offices that supply post-cataract eyewear. The Academy strongly disagrees with the necessity of such accreditation for any physician practices and met with CMS on April 16, along with the AMA and several other health care provider groups.

The Academy is presenting on LASIK at a briefing tomorrow of the FDA’s Ophthalmic Devices Panel. The meeting provides an opportunity for the FDA to hear from the public and experts about LASIK satisfaction issues; several unhappy patients are expected to testify.

Helping the World To See - America's Dr. Raju treats underprivileged in developing nations (2002)

Eye Foundation of America

[Morgantown, West Virginia]- Ophthalmologists in rural areas of developing countries are about as rare as the spotting of a Bengal Tiger. Just as the roar of a tiger announcing his presence charges the Jungle with excitement, so it is with Dr. V. K. Raju, a 59-year old Indian-born and board certified Ophthalmologist, who provides healthcare for the underprivileged of the world. In 1979 he established the Eye Foundation of America to help ensure adequate treatment of eye diseases. In the United States, Dr. Raju’s chosen homeland, he operates Monongalia Eye Clinic in Morgantown, West Virginia and is a clinical professor at West Virginia University.

From his West Virginia base Dr. Raju conducts approximately 25 Corneal Transplants annually; 300 to 400 cataract surgeries; and handles 7000 to 8000 patient visits. But, it’s his benevolent hobby that separates him from the pack. Raju has performed over 15,000 volunteer operations in India and restored vision (74% were non-paid) in his spare time. For the past two decades, he has assembled medical teams to trek to developing countries to treat patients in mobile "eye camps" or clinics. Raju’s “camps” are funded through donations by philanthropists, and American pharmaceutical companies. Physicians donate their services without receiving fees. Dr. Raju estimates that he has spent over a half-million-dollars plus, in sophisticated equipment, with the objective of providing world -class eye care to the needy.

After reaching the highest level of training available through the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh on London, Raju knew that the United States held great opportunities. When he came to West Virginia in 1977 patients were forced to leave the area for corneal transplants. Raju knew that he could offer the area his expertise in intra-ocular implants and other more common surgeries such as cataract. However, Raju says he felt a dual-responsibility to establish eye clinics in the land of the less fortunate that he left behind.

In the United States where patients wear colored contact lenses for vanity; select from a plethora of fashion-frames, and receive eye-tucks for youthful appeal, availability for general eye care is taken for granted. Another drastic difference, Raju explains, is the median age of patients in the United States compared to India. In America, for cataract surgery, the average patient age is 70; but in India and developing nations, Dr. Raju says that he performs cataract surgery on many more children, due to such causes as infection, vitamin deficiencies and birth defects. Dr. Raju points out, “Here, I realize that if I do not perform a surgery, it’s probably because the patient is seeking another surgeon or getting the procedure done at a later date. In rural India, if I don't perform the surgery, I know in my heart that a person, possibly a child, may live a life of blindness.”

Such was the case with an 8-month old baby in Vijayawada or the "City of Victory" as it literally translates. It was there that Dr. Raju celebrated a victory of his own ------- giving an infant the lifelong gift of sight. The year was 1980, and Raju used the state-of-the-art Ocutome, an instrument that mechanically sucks out cataracts through a small incision in the eye, to perform the delicate surgery. Had the operation not been successfully executed, the baby would have been totally blind within a year. The Rotary Club of Vijayawada hosted Raju’s camp, where he reportedly restored sight to over 175 impoverished patients.

Raju volunteers in India two to three times a year. He journeyed back to his native land In 1984 during the wake of the of the Union Carbide chemical spill in Bhopal. Initially, Raju feared the tragedy would leave many people with eye irritations or permanently blind. Though the toxic catastrophe contributed to some 3,800 deaths, Raju noted that there was no lasting eye injury for most of the surviving victims.

In 1993 he and his childhood friend, Chandra Sankurathri, established the Srikiran Institute of Ophthalmology, in Kakinada, which is in Andhra Pradesh, South India. Under Raju’s tutelage over 200 ophthalmologists have been trained in advanced courses. Staff members, ophthalmologists and general physicians are introduced to the latest developments in Ophthalmology and eye care. The Institute has provided service to more than 400,000 patients and 50,000 surgeries have been performed.

A Good Samaritan, Raju applauds the gallantry of physicians, fire fighters, and the various industry professionals who pulled together during the terrorist’s attacks on the World Trade Center. And, while admittedly, the culture in various lands differ greatly from that in the United States, Raju feels that sharing ones gift with mankind is a universal duty. In addition to spending all vacations giving service in India, Raju has also traveled to Africa, Asia, and other countries. He donates the surgical fees that he receives from refractive surgery to The Eye Foundation of America. Some of the funds go to organizations in America such as eye banks, and to aid groups as diverse as the American Navajo Indians and the World Trade Center victims.

Copyright © 2002. All rights reserved.


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