The Louisiana Department of Health announced today that 48 awards totaling more than $4 million will be issued to primary care physicians and other providers as an incentive to work in the New Orleans area for the next three years.

This is the first round of awards for applicants of the Greater New Orleans Health Service Corps, a $15 million program funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The awards are aimed at rebuilding the health care workforce in Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes.

“To provide adequate access to health care services to the underinsured, uninsured and Medicaid population post-Katrina, we have to rebuild clinics, hospitals and doctor’s offices, and we must have a workforce to properly staff these service sites,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise. “The goal of the GNO Health Service Corps is to support primary care providers already working in the New Orleans area, to recruit providers who left the area after Katrina and to attract new providers,” he said.

Twenty-seven primary care physicians, one specialist, three certified nurse practitioners, five dentists, one psychologist, five licensed clinical social workers, one licensed professional counselor, one marriage and family therapist, one licensed master social worker and three pharmacists were all approved for funding in the first round.

Seventy percent of the program’s funding is dedicated to recruiting new providers to the area. The remaining 30 percent of the funds are available to provide retention incentives for area providers. In this first round, 16 of the 48 providers were newly recruited to the area and will receive placement assistance from Med Job Louisiana, the state’s free recruitment service. Thirty-two providers were retained in the area; 10 providers currently are working in Jefferson Parish, and 22 providers currently are working in Orleans Parish.

LDH will continue to accept applications until all program funds are allocated. Applications received by the last Friday of each month will be reviewed for eligibility, and awards will be announced within 30 days of the review. The next round of awards will be announced on May 28, 2007. Applications from 172 physicians, dentists, mid-level providers, behavioral health providers and pharmacists have been submitted since the program began accepting applications on April 5, 2007.

Applicants may customize their awards to 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.

Family practice, general practice, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, pediatrics and general psychiatry physicians and dentists are eligible for up to $110,000 from the grant program. 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, and licensed clinical social workers are eligible for up to $55,000. Licensed pharmacists may receive up to $50,000.

The Los Angeles Times recently published an article relating to the post-Katrina doctor drought in New Orleans. 

To learn more or to apply for the Greater New Orleans Health Service Corps, visit