The Department of Health awarded $21 million to seven hurricane-impacted areas to establish primary health care services, using funding from the federal Social Services Block Grant Primary and Preventive Health Care Services Funding Pool. A portion of the funds also will be used to develop a statewide pharmacy access program for uninsured and underinsured Louisiana residents.

The funded projects in each area include mobile, neighborhood and school-based health clinics, which integrate primary health care services with behavioral health and public health services.  It was important for each area to incorporate technology as a focus of the planning.  Electronic medical records systems and other health technology will allow these areas to provide the best quality health care for area residents and is key to preparing for future disasters.

“This funding is incredibly important to the parishes that received awards because our residents need appropriate primary health care services in order to return home to live and work and to rebuild their communities,” said LDH Secretary, Dr. Fred P. Cerise.  “These health care projects represent a huge step in rebuilding a health care system that provides efficient and effective services to Louisiana residents,” he said.

The United States Congress issued a supplemental Social Services Block Grant appropriation to all 50 states following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  The Department was directed to administer part of its funding to foster direct patient care services in ambulatory settings in parishes that experienced substantial hurricane-related impact to their health care system or a substantial increase in population.

“We have worked diligently with the Louisiana Recovery Authority to award these funds, and with their guidance, we have been able to target areas that can most benefit from these crucial health care recovery projects,” Cerise said.
The awards are based on applications submitted after three months of intensive hurricane recovery planning facilitated by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Department’s Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health and the Louisiana Public Health Institute.

“We congratulate the community leaders in the affected areas on the receipt of these grant awards,” said Kristy H. Nichols, Director of the Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health. “We are grateful for their hard work and dedication to health care planning despite the loss of their own homes, businesses and communities.”

The awards are as follows:

Cameron Parish: $1.8 million
Lower Cameron Hospital Service District will use funding to reestablish services with a critical access hospital as well as provide integrated primary care services at rural health clinics, a behavioral health center and a school-based health center and to provide for a technology-based patient case management system.

Baton Rouge Area: $2.4 million
Capital Area Human Services District will use funding to increase health care capacity to provide for the evacuee resident population by increasing hours and staff at that facility. Primary care delivery sites include mobile primary care and behavioral health clinics in trailer communities, neighborhood clinics, federally qualified health centers and public health unit services sites.  Funds also are dedicated to developing an integrated referral system for medical records, triage and referrals.

Orleans and Jefferson Region: $13.5 million

Metropolitan Human Services District will use funds to establish new neighborhood clinics and reopen pre-existing facilities in response to the returning population.  These sites will include mobile units and stationary sites to provide adult and pediatric primary care and behavioral health services. Technology projects include electronic medical records to track patient information, referrals and quality.

Plaquemines Parish: $1.2 million

Plaquemines Hospital Service District and Plaquemines Parish Government will use funds to provide primary care and behavioral health services through a modular medical clinic, which will be converted to a rural health clinic in Port Sulphur. Funds also will be used to reestablish emergency medical services and provide child and adolescent behavioral health services through the CARE organization.

St. Bernard Parish: $1.7 million
St. Bernard Parish Council will use funds to provide integrated primary care and behavioral health services through a health care clinic that will serve as the foundation of a future medical complex in Chalmette.  Funds also will be used to establish emergency communications and a patient referral system.

St. Tammany Parish: $700,000

St. Tammany Parish Government will use funds to provide primary care and behavioral health services through a pediatric clinic, a safety net clinic and to integrate primary care behavioral health and some public health services.

Statewide Pharmacy Access Framework: $374,000

The Department of Health will work with existing community pharmacy initiatives to coordinate the development of an appropriate and effective state approach for increasing access to pharmacy programs. This will be done through creation of a Statewide Pharmacy Access Program that will make it easier for uninsured and underinsured residents to obtain pharmaceutical supplies.