09/30/05 — Only local endocrinologist will close his county office

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Only local endocrinologist will close his county office

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 30, 2005 1:48 PM

Dr. Michael Brennan, the area's only endocrinologist, is closing up shop next month, leaving local health officials faced with whether to recruit a replacement and patients with a new doctor hunt of their own.

Brennan, whose office has been part of Carolina Kidney and Endocrine Center for the last six years, said he has tried to recruit a partner for four of those years, unsuccessfully.

He attributed the problem partially to being located in a more rural location, but noted that there is also a shortage of endocrinologists across the country. With incidents of diabetes and obesity on the rise, the demand for services has made the workload virtually unmanageable, he said.

Brennan said he works an average of between 80 and 100 hours a week, which includes seeing patients, being a consultant and covering duties at the hospital emergency room. Such an extensive schedule doesn't appeal to most medical graduates, he said.

While not employed by Wayne Memorial Hospital, Brennan has had a working partnership there, said Amy Cain, hospital public relations director. Wayne Memorial established a diabetes education office several years ago and provided a registered nurse and dietician.

WADEC, which stands for Wayne Area Diabetes and Endocrine Center, will remain open for education and support, Mrs. Cain said.

"That's a very important initiative," she said. "There's still plenty of diabetes education to be done and fulfilled."

Brennan agreed that the education aspect is vital and said it will be important for the community to have access to the service.

The decision to leave Wayne County was made over the summer, Brennan said. He and his wife, a registered nurse, plan to move to Greensboro. The couple's final weeks in Goldsboro will be spent doing everything possible to ease the transition for patients.

"We have notified every patient that we have seen in the last two years," he said. "We will have letters written to their new physicians."

Some might be cared for by a primary care doctor. Many will likely have to seek help elsewhere. The majority are expected to have to travel to Greenville, Brennan said, or as far as Chapel Hill and Raleigh.

"We're doing our best to help the people be placed but it's not as convenient as being seen down the street," he said.

Brennan, trained to work with pediatric as well as adult patients, said his case load has ranged from a 7-month-old to a 98-year-old. The majority of those he sees have diabetes-related problems, but also include thyroid issues and children with growth-related problems.

Mrs. Cain said discussion has already begun at the hospital about ways to recruit another endocrinologist. The specialty area presents a challenge, she said, because there are fewer and fewer to pick from.

Among the options that have been mentioned by the board are to enlist help from local physician groups, she said.