Dr. John Mallett has been delivering babies and taking care of women's health care needs for 13 years. He used to see about 25 patients a day at the Biloxi OB-GYN Clinic. These days, he's taking on a bigger case load.
Dr. John Mallett says "I'm seeing about 40 patients a day, and still can't keep up with the number of people who want to be seen".
That's because two doctors left this year, and the clinic is having problems recruiting new doctors. Dr. Mallett says "I can't find anybody that would even talk to us about coming to Mississippi. We are infamous around the country now as a malpractice mecca, and residents who are finishing and looking to relocate, are not interested in coming here at all".
Dr. Mallett says the manpower shortage is forcing him to shut down the branch office at Cedar Lake Medical Park. Dr. Mallett says "Our overhead has increased dramatically because of the malpractice premiums. When you factor that with the fact that there are only two doctors working now, there's really no reason for us to run two offices".
The branch closing means several office employees will lose their jobs. Some workers, like receptionist Stafanie Mignault, are leaving. This is her last week of work.
Stefanie Mignault says "Being a single mom, I just had to go out and find another job. That way, I wouldn't have the uncertainty of not knowing a week, two weeks, or a month from now, if I was going to have a job".
Doctors say there's uncertainty for patients as well. Dr. Mallett says "There aren't enough physicians to see patients. A lot of pregnant patients are probably going to have to go to a secondary coverage system, such as the health department, for their prenatal care".
The OB-GYN branch at Cedar Lake officially closes August 31st. Patients can still go to the main office on Reynoir Street, across from Biloxi Regional Medical Center.