NORTH COUNTRY, N.Y. (WWTI) — Multiple congress members worked together to compose a letter focusing on recruiting rural doctors for the 21st congressional district.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Congressman John Katko, and Congressman Peter Welch signed the letter that was sent to the Northern Border Regional Commission. The NRBC covers Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer, Fulton, Warren, Saratoga, Washington, Oneida, Montgomery, Rensselaer, and Oswego Counties.

Her contribution to the effort is a result of a physician staffing shortage in the North Country, according to Congresswoman Stefanik. The letter prompted the NBRC to develop and administer programs that would address staffing shortages in New York and the surrounding states.

Specifically, the representatives suggested the NBRC use its existing authority to implement a J-1 waiver program for United States-trained physicians. The program would allow non-domestic physicians trained in the U.S. to work in health professional shortage areas or medically underserved areas for three years. The letter cited similar efforts by other organizations to show the impact the NRBC could have on local communities.

“Similar programs are currently administered by the Delta Regional Authority and the Appalachian Regional Commission. In 2019 alone, the Delta Regional Authority processed 160 physician applications through their Delta Doctors program, significantly improving access to care in rural areas that often experience considerable challenges in physician recruitment and retention,” the letter stated.

The complete letter can be found here.