Washington, DC -- Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) will be honored, tomorrow, Saturday, June 30, at the Mid-Hudson Family Practice Residency Program graduation ceremony in Kingston for his work to establish the program as an assemblyman in 1979 and for a public service career committed to improving access to quality, affordable health care for Hudson Valley residents.  The award will be presented during the graduation proceedings for six doctors who recently completed their training at the Mid-Hudson Family Practice Residency Program.
 
"The Mid-Hudson Family Practice Residency Program is an initiative that is near and dear to my heart since I worked to create it more than three decades ago," Hinchey said.   It was very clear then as it is now that we need doctors who would not only understand the unique challenges that face health care providers in rural communities, but also know how to meet those challenges.  The Mid-Hudson Family Practice Residency Program has been remarkably successful at training doctors in the Mid-Hudson Valley, having them focus on treating those most in need who would otherwise not have access to care, and working to keep these newly trained doctors in our area.  It's a remarkable program that should serve as a model for other parts of our state and country.  It was my pleasure to help create this program and I am deeply appreciative of this award recognizing my efforts.  The real awards, however, should go to the men and women who have chosen to pursue their medical careers through this program and are committed to improving the health of all those in the Mid-Hudson Valley."
 
Beginning in 1975, Hinchey, who was then an assemblyman representing Ulster County, started pursuing the idea of setting up a system to have family practice physicians go through their residency locally in the Hudson Valley in order to familiarize them with the region and encourage them to set up practice locally. This was viewed as a critical issue as the region faced a shortage of family practice doctors.  Eventually, Hinchey secured funding to initiate the program as part of the state's budget in 1979.  The program was originally associated with Kingston Family Practice (a group that eventually became the Mid-Hudson Family Health Institute) and was known as the Mid-Hudson Rural Family Practice Resident Training Program.
 
Under the leadership of Dr. David Mesches and Dr. Norman Burg, the organization set out with a mission to deliver health care to under-insured and uninsured residents in the Hudson Valley. The group formed strong alliances that led to regional collaboration and a more seamless, integrated health care delivery system for the most at-risk member of the community.  Additionally, the initiative provided an array of educational programs to patients who would have otherwise gone without appropriate medical care or information.
 
In 2007, facing financial difficulties, the Institute, including the Residency Program, merged with the Institute for Family Health.  The merger helped to protect the Mid-Hudson region's access to primary care physicians.  It also meant that all involved sites would become part of a federally qualified health care network, enabling Institute sites to receive reimbursements that are closer to the actual cost of providing care. In 2011, with the receipt of a federal grant from U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, the program became one of the first teaching health centers in the county and the only one in New York State.
 
Today, the Institute for Family Health operates 26 health centers in the Mid-Hudson region and NYC, providing medical care to 80,000 patients in four counties.  Services include specialists in family medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, internal medicine, gastroenterology, pulmonology, pediatrics to name a few. The Institute for Family Health also manages grant-funded programs to support them in providing services to special populations, like the homeless or those with HIV/AIDS.
 
To date, more than 150 family physicians have graduated from the program and an astounding 70 percent of them have stayed in the Mid-Hudson region.