Visalians asked to house new physicians in face of inflated rental market

The new program will seek housing for new physician residents from local community members with rooms to spare

VISALIA – The competitive state of Visalia’s rental market has many incoming physician residents at a loss as to where to live, so Kaweah Health is taking matters into its own hands. The hospital is partnering with local community members who are willing to open spare rooms in their homes to new residents free of charge.

Inspired by a program led by the Visalia Rawhide that matches new ballplayers with local families willing to house them, one of Kaweah Health’s community advisory councils designed the program as a way to help incoming residents find short-term housing in the area.

“Kaweah Health wanted to support our incoming residents by helping them find free and safe short-term housing that would allow them to get situated in our community,” said Marc Mertz, the hospital’s Chief Strategy Officer. “This will not only provide the residents with a place to live while they become acclimated to our community, but it will also introduce them to members of the community that might help them learn more about our area and all that it has to offer.” 

Fifty new residents begin work at Kaweah Health as part of their Graduate Medical Education program each spring. They are matched with Kaweah Health through a national program and train in one of six different specialties including family medicine, general surgery, psychiatry, anesthesia and emergency medicine.

Mark Fulmer, a volunteer on the hospital’s community advisory council, says he plans on opening his home to an incoming resident as part of the program. 

“This is a way to let these physicians get to know Visalia and hopefully decide this is where they want to call home,” Fulmer said. “I’m widowed and I have empty rooms, so I’m going to step up. I hope many people do.” 

Employees from Kaweah Health have been promoting the program through local service clubs, and also have invited members of their community advisory councils to participate.

“There has been strong interest from community members wanting to volunteer to be hosts–a great testament to the generosity of our community,” Mertz said. 

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