Teche Regional Gains HPSA Designation

May 15, 2019

Teche Regional Gains HPSA Designation

(Morgan City, L.A.) – Officials for Teche Regional Medical Center say a Federal designation now covering St. Mary Parish means they can now attract and retain more health care providers within the community.

Aphreikah DuHaney-West, CEO of Teche Regional Medical Center, said she recently received word that the Federal government approved St. Mary Parish for designation as a Health Professional Shortage Area, or HPSA. The designation means that the community was able to prove to the state and Federal governments that there is an on-going shortage of primary care providers available to the community.

The HPSA designation program was established by the Federal government to flag underserved communities that are in need of additional resources to help entice healthcare providers to the area. St. Mary Parish is covered in its entirety under this new High Needs Geographic type HPSA designation.

Benefits now available to healthcare providers in St. Mary Parish include state loan forgiveness to providers practicing with nonprofit organizations, expedited physician licensing, the ability to establish CMS certified Rural Health Clinics, the ability to recruit physicians on J-1 Visa Waiver, and special consideration for a variety of healthcare grants. 

Rural Health Clinics that become certified by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, receive Federal financial assistance in return for providing primary care in a rural community.

The Federal government also offers an additional financial incentive bonus to all physicians within St. Mary Parish. This HPSA benefit is to encourage higher levels of service for Medicare patients' needs.

“All of the doctors in St. Mary Parish now qualify for the HPSA bonus.” DuHaney-West, said. “This should boost healthcare access for the elderly, but also help retain current physicians and help recruit additional talent.”

In order to prove the shortage, officials at Teche Regional Medical Center sought out HPSA Acumen, Inc., a company that specializes in healthcare research and securing HPSA designations for hospitals and healthcare networks.

To acquire this designation for St. Mary Parish, Teche Regional Medical Center, in conjunction with HPSA Acumen, reviewed the backgrounds of all area doctors and surveyed their offices for physician hours, patient caseloads, and physicians' use of certified nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Teche Regional Medical Center and HPSA Acumen then built a proposal. The Louisiana Department of Health was able to champion the project, bringing in their expertise to carry the designation all the way through Federal approval.

"Our organization may have been able to do this," DuHaney-West, said about applying for a HPSA designation, "but we would not have been able to bring the same experience to bear, and it would have forced us to use staff time and resources that were better spent providing healthcare in the community."

The HPSA designation takes effect immediately, with many doctors accruing the Medicare bonus automatically starting in 2020. Additional information on the HPSA designation is available from the Teche Regional Medical Center Web site, www.techeregional.com, and at the HPSA Acumen Web site: www.hpsa.us.

HPSA designation offers benefits to the entire community:

  • Designation makes it easier and less expensive to recruit and retain physicians and advanced practitioners because of loan repayments and visa waivers.
  • Additional training may be offered for medical staff throughout the community because of the demonstrated shortages.
  • Clinics may be eligible to obtain site improvement grants and loans, when available.
  • HPSA designation is a precursor to other programs because it defines the shortage area needs of a community. This allows communities to take the ‘next step’ for many of the programs available.
  • HPSAs are also necessary first steps to establishing rural health clinics and community health clinics. These types of clinics help reduce primary care pressure on local emergency rooms.

About HPSA Acumen

Our mission is to strengthen health in communities throughout the United States. Benefits that flow from HPSA designations help hospitals recruit highly qualified physicians, assist physicians with medical education loan repayment, and build revenue with grant funding to develop the healthcare system.