BATON ROUGE- Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and Louisiana Department of Health (DHH) Secretary Alan Levine announced eight community-based rural health grants that will aid rural communities throughout the state in the fight against breast cancer, diabetes, and other health needs. Governor Jindal and Secretary made the announcement at the Winn Parish Medical Center in Winnfield.

The Governor emphasized the importance of these grants given the proposed federal changes to disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding that could limit funds to many hospitals in rural areas. Based on the latest audit, Louisiana faces a federal rule change that could cost the state $197.5 million per year in DSH funds, which are available to hospitals to help cover the costs of uncompensated care to Medicaid recipients and the uninsured.

Governor Jindal said, “These grants will play an important role in improving access to affordable health care in our rural parishes – while helping to address populations that suffer from chronic conditions, like diabetes. By improving the capacity to provide integrated, effective and efficient health care services in our rural areas, we can help keep our residents healthier while making their costs more affordable.

“Even as we face significant budget challenges from the faulty federal FMAP formula that will cost us $500 annually in health care funds for some of the poorest in our state, as well as a federal reduction in our disproportionate share hospital funding that is costing us an estimated $200 million in hospital and rural health funding, we remain committed to meeting the health care needs of our rural communities.”

The grants total $597,282, with approximately $75,000 each going to the St. James Parish Hospital, the Health Enrichment Network in Allen Parish, the Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center, the Pointe Coupee Homebound Health Hospice, Pointe Coupee Better Access Community Health, the St. Charles Community Health Center, the Southwest Louisiana Center for Health Services, and the David Raines Community Health Center in Bossier Parish.

Funding for five of the grants, totaling $372,282, was made available for the community-based and rural health program through an annual state legislative appropriation to provide financial assistance to rural and/or underserved areas. Funds are used to maintain, enhance or expand access to community-based primary and preventive health care services.

Three grant applicants -- the St. Charles Community Health Center, the Southwest Louisiana Center for Health Services, and the David Raines Community Health Center in Bossier Parish -- fit the requirements for both community-based rural health grant dollars and federal Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) dollars, allowing the state to fund these grants without using state general funds. LDH has also begun accepting applications for a new round of SSBG grants this week, which can also be used for rural health needs.

“Our state has some of the highest cancer and diabetes rates in the nation, and it is important that we help spread awareness, offer preventive treatment options, and increase access to care in our rural communities to fight these diseases,” Levine said. “These community-based rural health grants will help accomplish those goals long-term by jump-starting programs today.”

Senate President Joel Chaisson said, “This funding will provide valuable health services to keep our children and families healthy, and this effort from the Governor truly shows how important our communities are to the state as a whole.”

Representative Rick Nowlin said, “Our local health professionals work tirelessly to provide citizens with quality care, and with this support from the Governor, our citizens will be able to continue receiving the sort of care they deserve.”

Representative Major Thibaut said, “These grants are going to go a long way in keeping our people healthier – and I applaud the Governor and the folks at the Department of Health for understanding how important our rural communities are to the state.”

Senator Elbert Guillory said, “The health and well-being of our citizens is priority number one, and these funds will give our rural areas the tools they need to help folks in the region stay healthy and live better lives.”

Senator Gerald Long said, “This is an excellent example of teamwork between Governor Jindal’s administration and the local needs of Winn parish. As a State Senator, I am very grateful for this grant and it will be used wisely for the benefit of our people.”

Detailed Grant Information

St. James Parish Hospital - $75,000

St. James Parish Hospital will purchase software to be used to enhance and expand ways to screen for breast cancer in St. James Parish. The hospital will also implement a breast cancer awareness campaign aiming to reach between 700 and 800 residents, and work to provide 50 more mammograms to women in the parish for a five percent increase over prior years.

While Louisiana’s breast cancer rate is actually lower than the national average, the state ranks among the highest states in the nation in terms of breast cancer death rates.

The Health Enrichment Network -  $73,217

The Health Enrichment Network will open the Allen Parish Diabetes Research Center (DRC), which will be the only coordinated diabetes-related service in the parish. Allen Parish has a diabetes rate of 13.4 percent. The statewide diabetes rate is 10.6 percent, which ranks 47th in the nation.

The diabetes research center will serve 400 individual patients, and will hold three trainings for approximately 50 health care workers regarding new and innovative treatments for diabetes. The DRC will also help distribute a diabetes newsletter by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center to 350 parish residents and make the newsletter available at Bunkie General Hospital as part of their efforts to create a diabetes network throughout central Louisiana.

Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center - $74,065

The Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center (AHEC) will provide free cervical and breast cancer screenings for uninsured women 35-54 years of age in Winn Parish. More than 500 women fit these requirements in Winn Parish. The AHEC hopes to reach approximately 60 percent of them with this effort, and will serve as the only health facility in the parish where these uninsured women have access to free screenings.

The AHEC will also implement a community awareness campaign for cancer screenings and physician awareness of screening recommendations.

Pointe Coupee Homebound Health Hospice - $75,000

Pointe Coupee Homebound Health Hospice will create a specialty clinic to address nutrition and the high rate of diabetes among Pointe Coupee Parish residents. The facility hopes to reach 5,000 residents in the parish, which has a diabetes rate of 10.6 percent. The new clinic will be open to the public.

The statewide diabetes rate is 10.6 percent, which ranks 47th in the nation.

Pointe Coupee Better Access Community Health - $75,000

Better Access Community Health will expand the current non-emergent medical transportation program to five days a week and maintain two routes per day. Clients served are residents of Pointe Coupee Parish requiring specialized care in Baton Rouge.

This will allow an additional 20 people per week to be transported, totaling approximately 700 people receiving transportation.

St. Charles Community Health Center - $75,000

St. Charles will expand existing oral health services at St. Charles Community Health Center’s core site located in Luling. The funds will be used to hire, train and employ additional dental department personnel, including a hygienist and an additional support staff member. St. Charles Parish is considered a dental health provider shortage area.

Southwest Louisiana Center for Health Services - $75,000

The Southwest Louisiana Center for Health Services will provide primary care services at Carencro Middle Schools via a school-based health center model, and will hire a nurse practitioner and a medical assistant for the school.

David Raines Community Health Center - $75,000

The David Raines Community Health Center will expand access to affordable pharmaceuticals for patients by creating an onsite pharmacy at the Bossier facility.

The center has approximately 12,000 health visits a year; about 50 percent of those patients would be using the pharmacy.

BACKGROUND: Community-Based Rural Health Grant

Each year the community-based rural health grant guidance is revised to reflect current priorities and initiatives of the Department.  For the 2009-2010 grant year, funding was prioritized for those projects that demonstrate development or implementation of the medical home model of care. Grant recipients demonstrated they will use the funding to add or enhance one or more of the components of the medical home model of care, such as evidenced-based practices, accepted standards of care, quality initiatives, cost effectiveness, and strong medical management.

Recipients also demonstrated community support for their projects as well as data that identifies the community’s health status, as well as defining their project objectives and strategies. All grantees receive technical assistance, as needed, from the LDH Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health to assure the funded projects are fully implemented and are positioned for long-term community benefit.