Baton Rouge --- The Louisiana Department of Health has issued changes to the eligibility requirements for the Greater New Orleans Health Service Corps.  The program is designed to lure health care professionals back to the New Orleans area by providing up to $110,000 to those who agree to work in the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Bernard for three years.

The policy originally required participants to offer services at a physical address located within a federally designated health professional shortage area in that four-parish area. The revised policy changes this requirement, allowing primary care providers located outside of a designated area in those parishes to apply for the program if they provide evidence that they serve a majority of patients who live in a health professional shortage area.

In order to accommodate providers who were considered ineligible under the original policy guidelines, LDH will begin accepting applications on April 5, 2007, instead of March 30, 2007, as initially announced. All applications received prior to April 5 will be date-stamped April 5, 2007. Applications will be accepted until all incentive funding has been awarded. 

Family practice, general practice, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, pediatrics and general psychiatry physicians will be eligible for payments from the grant program. In addition to medical doctors, the program will assist dentists, family practice physician assistants, certified nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, registered clinical dental hygienists, licensed clinical or counseling psychologists, psychiatric nurse specialists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, and licensed pharmacists.

Physicians, psychiatrists and dentists may receive up to $110,000; mid-level providers may receive up to $55,000 and pharmacists may receive up to $50,000. Providers also may customize a package of incentives. Incentives packages could include up to $110,000 in loan repayment or income guarantees, up to $40,000 for sign-on bonuses or malpractice premium payments, up to $20,000 for relocation expenses and up to $10,000 for health information technology continuing education expenses.

Under the program, participants must provide three years of full-time professional health care services to all patients regardless of ability to pay, accept Medicare and Medicaid patients, have a sliding fee-scale for low income, uninsured patients and be U.S. citizens licensed to practice in Louisiana. 

The Greater New Orleans Health Service Corps is funded by a $15 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The official program policy and application are available at

For more information on the Greater New Orleans Health Service Corps, contact Gayla Strahan at (225) 342-0887.