La. to give bonuses, incentive to get doctors to N.O.

The Associated Press

Louisiana will use a $15 million federal grant to hand out bonuses, relocation payments and other incentives to try to lure doctors and health-care workers back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

The city and the surrounding area have faced a shortage of doctors, nurses and other health-care workers since Katrina struck in August 2005 and shut down many of the hospitals and medical facilities there. The health-care shortage has been blamed for slowing recovery.

The state Department of Health and Hospitals will give out payments of up to $110,000 to primary-care doctors and other health-care professionals who move to New Orleans and its hurricane-affected neighboring parishes.

Applications for the payments will be accepted beginning March 30.

Health-care workers who commit to work three years in Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines or St. Bernard parishes will be eligible for loan repayments, sign-up bonuses, malpractice premium payments, relocation expenses and income guarantees under the grant program.

The program is open to doctors in family practice, general practice, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, pediatrics and general psychiatry and to dentists, family practice physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, dental hygienists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse specialists, professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, social workers and pharmacists.

The payments available to health- care workers are based on type of worker and type of incentive payment. Those who receive the money must provide services in an area deemed as having a shortage of health professionals, and they must provide care to all patients regardless of ability to pay. The money was awarded to Louisiana in a grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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