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Preventing Amputations


  The Louisiana Health Care Review (LHCR) has received a $1 million grant to fund the "Limb Preservation after Katrina" (LiPAK) study aimed at reducing the high rate of amputations among African-American diabetes patients. The two-year study, the only one of its kind in the United States, will provide free limb-preservation diabetes education to Medicare beneficiaries in Orleans and Jefferson parishes and is designed to enhance a current program that provides free nutritional and health education to African-American diabetic Medicare patients in Orleans and four other Louisiana parishes. It also will educate participants about lifestyle changes and other things that help them avoid amputation, as well as support from health care experts.

  The grant was awarded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The LSU Public Policy Research Institute reports that the rate of amputation among all Medicare beneficiaries in Louisiana is 1.66 per 1,000 — the highest in the country — and is even higher among African-Americans on Medicare. The rate is as high as 5.8 per 1,000 in the New Orleans and Metairie areas, the institute says, and is likely the result of reduced health care resources since Hurricane Katrina.

  For more information about the LiPAK program, call Linda Harkey at (225) 926-6353 or visit www.lhcrmedicare.org. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. — Graves

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