ABINGDON, Va. –The board of directors at Johnston Memorial Hospital have voted to partner with Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine to establish a residency program in Abingdon.

The agreement is expected to place up to nine residents at JMH in the first year, with the number potentially increasing during the initial five-years of the program. VCOM will provide support personnel and other resources during the five-year startup phase.
“We are excited to partner with VCOM because they carry a great deal of expertise in establishing new residency programs,” said Sean McMurray, chief executive officer of JMH. “In the last eight years, VCOM has helped to roll out 10 community-based residency programs, so we are confident in their ability to lead a smooth startup here at JMH.”

The hospital hopes to have the program up and running in time to accept residents during the annual match period in February 2015.

“The partnership with VCOM does not prevent JMH from developing agreements with other medical schools in the region similar to what Carilion Clinic developed with VCOM that eventually led to the development of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke,” said Dr. Hughes Melton, chief medical officer for Mountain States Health Alliance’s Virginia facilities. “We remain open to exploring these opportunities as they become available.” said Melton.  “Washington County and the surrounding areas in Southwest Virginia need more physicians now. Studies show that physicians tend to practice within a hundred miles of where they complete their residency.

Melton said primary care physicians are particularly needed in the region, especially with the influx of new patients expected to come as more people obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.