With the signing of Senate Bill 215 by Governor Bobby Jindal, Lake Charles Memorial has earned the designation of Major Teaching Hospital.
The bill amended the "Major Teaching Status" to be applicable to facilities having a documented affiliation agreement with a Louisiana medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, meeting at least one of two residency program criteria. Major teaching facilities must be either a major participant in at least four approved medical residency programs, with at least two in medicine, surgery, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, family practice, emergency medicine or psychiatry, or have more than 20 active residents with an approved medical residency program in family practice located more than 150 miles from the medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.
"This designation clearly recognizes the important position Lake Charles Memorial Hospital has in southwest Louisiana," says Larry Graham, Memorial Hospital CEO. "We are the go-to hospital for training, trauma and tertiary care. We've been a teaching hospital for 14 years. This new amendment just recognizes what we've been providing all along and provides us with financial support for our residents to continue supplying Louisiana with some of the finest family medicine physicians in Louisiana."
Memorial's program financially supports the residents for nearly 100% of its cost with LSU and DHH helping to reimburse only a small percentage of the cost. The public/private partnership between Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-New Orleans and Lake Charles Memorial Hospital is unique because most of other residency programs are based in an LSU hospital. The benefit to Memorial's residents is that they care for an array of patients from every walk of life at a state of the art institution with state of the art equipment. Additionally, residents are "mentored" and "educated" by experienced physicians who are in private clinical practice and not in an academic practice where they may devote much of their time to research rather than hands-on patient care.
"The big draw for our residency program is that students learn and work ‘unopposed' meaning they do not compete with other residents in internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics or surgery for the patient cases," according to Dr. Alan LeBato, Medical Director for LSUHSC/Memorial's Family Medicine Residency Program. "This provides the best possible training for family physicians because they can take care of patients of all ages with all types of medical conditions. Residents in family medicine want and need to experience a broad type of "hands on" training offered because this is what their practice will be like in the rural and small towns of Louisiana."
Memorial/LSUHSC Family Medicine Residency Program currently instructs 24 graduate physicians per year specializing in family medicine under the supervision of five board-certified family medicine physician faculty members. Additionally, four third-year orthopedic residents are trained annually during 3-month rotations in sports medicine under the supervision of a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist.
The Family Medicine Residency Program began in January 1995, with a mission to promote and provide the highest quality physician education through patient care by utilizing the most up-to-date educational methods and information systems. Since its inception, 79 medical school graduates have selected Lake Charles as their residency site. Of the 55 graduates of the program, 35 are practicing in Louisiana, and the others are practicing in Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas, Nevada, Utah and Oregon. One graduate is working through an international medical mission. To date, more than 100 orthopedic residents have completed three month rotations in sports medicine.
"I believe we prepare our residents for private practice better than any of the other primary care program in Louisiana," according to Graham. "And, at a time when there is a shortage of docs, we fill a void by both training new physicians and providing more physicians to serve the growing need for primary care doctors in southwest Louisiana. "