Bridging the Great Health Divide: Robertson County, Kentucky remains without a single doctor despite interest

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 3:55 PM EST
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ROBERTSON COUNTY, Ky. (WXIX) - A potential move to bring a doctor to Robertson County, Kentucky has stalled out after a series of FOX19 Now reports spawned interest in helping the county.

Currently, there are no doctors, pediatricians, nurse practitioners, or dentists in the county that is made up of roughly 2,200 residents.

“You know you have to travel 30 miles to get to the doctor,” resident Kelvin Gay claims.

Robertson County is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Trail and is situated east of both Cincinnati and Lexington.

Population-wise, it is the smallest county in the commonwealth.

The closest physician is in Maysville, which is half an hour away.

“Well, that’s just the way it’s been all their lives,” Gay said. “We’re used to it. You just have to get in your car and go.”

A Kenwood-based primary care practice called Next Direct hoped to change that after watching FOX19 NOW’S original report.

“We were all kind of shocked that an entire county, albeit the smallest county in Kentucky, still didn’t have any care,” said Next Direct founder Dr. Alan Bee.

County officials were optimistic back in May about having a doctor.

“I got a call from Next Direct wanting to come out and talk to me about primary care for my community,” said Robertson County Judge-Executive Stephanie Bogucki.

Next Direct is a membership-based practice that offers unlimited office visits for a $65/month fee for an individual and $85/month fee for a family of four.

The company was hoping to open a clinic in Mt. Olivet by the end of the July and says it dropped its fee to $50 a month.

But according to the U.S Health Resources and Services Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission, Robertson County is in a distressed economic situation ranking it in the bottom 10% of all counties in the country.

That means many of its residents are on Medicaid.

“In our model, we don’t bill insurance,” Dr. Bee said. “We bill a monthly fee so for a Medicaid patient it’s a pretty difficult sell for them to pay out of pocket for a monthly fee if their services are typically free or close to free.”

So, despite the joint effort made by the company and the county, there is still no doctor.

“We were disappointed, to say the least, that we couldn’t make something work,” Dr. Bee said. “It was not a deal ever that we thought we would make money, but we honestly thought it would be a great project to provide care to families that had no care.”

FOX19 Now reached out to Robertson County Judge-Executive Stephanie Bogucki but have yet to hear back.

Buffalo Trace Health Department Director Vic McKay says he is meeting with another health care provider in hopes of piquing interest in setting up camp in Robertson County.

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