The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a $3.12 million grant to the LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) to train more primary care physicians. The five-year grant will be used to double the number of primary care doctors trained through the Rural Family Medicine Residency program at LSU's Bogalusa Medical Center.
LSU will use the grant to ameliorate the anticipated gap between available primary care physicians and communities who need them. Dr. Steve Nelson, dean of LSUHSC's medical school, says 97 percent of Louisiana suffers from a shortage of primary care physicians, and the problem is expected to get worse as more people become eligible for health insurance in 2014 under President Barack Obama's new health care program. In addition, 25 percent of primary care doctors in Louisiana are 60 or older, making expected shortages more severe as these health care providers retire, according to Dr. Kim Edward LeBlanc, chairman of LSUHSC's Department of Family Medicine. — Kandace Power Graves