Possibly no numbers showcase that more than the number of beds the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans (MCLNO) had in the ‘70s until now. In 1970, MCLNO had 1,500 beds; by January, that number will be down to 150.
Numbers like that display the need for reorganization and redesigning how LSU Medical School prepares its students for the future and has led the school to already put plans in place to ensure that the state is putting out great physicians.
Hollier spoke to the Rotary Club of Crowley Tuesday to explain the school’s plan on redesigning the state’s hospital system and the impact on the GME (graduate medical education).
“In the future, we’re going to be better off than we are now,” said Hollier.
Hollier painted a picture Tuesday that is far brighter than the gloomy one budget cuts tend to depict. The key for LSU is adaptation.
A key number in its adaptation shows the plan to shift more residents to private hospitals than public ones, to make sure they are getting enough cases to better prepare themselves for life outside of residency.
In its pre-Katrina days, LSU Medical School had about 75 percent of its residents in public hospitals and only 25 percent in private ones. Currently that percentage breakdown is 50-50. After the redesign is complete, Hollier expects the numbers to lie at about 30 percent in public hospitals and 70 percent in private ones.
While many would tend to believe hospitals that have a residents-to-patients ratio lying somewhere between 1.3 to 1.7 residents per patient, which is where LSU is showing hospitals like UMC in Lafayette and so forth sitting currently, is a good thing, Hollier is quick to point out that is not the case for residents trying to equip themselves with knowledge.
“For residents, the ratio is far too high for educational purposes,” he said.
Thus with the latest round of budget cuts, LSU has started actively putting in motion the plan to redesign the hospital structure in the state, using outpatient clinics to triage and get patients where they need to go to get the help they need.
But there is one other overarching problem with the medical system, not just in this state, but nationally, a shortage of physicians, dentists, physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners.
Current studies project the shortage to reach over 100,000 by 2020.
Now, so far, Louisiana has kept up with the national average, but that hasn’t been enough and Louisiana’s rural areas have the biggest shortage. That is coupled with an aging workforce (a majority of physicians are over the age of 60).
In the midst of all that, however, Hollier says the dedication to helping patients is also being realized, with physicians staying in practice longer. Those sentiments are not lost on the current students as well as they are just as worried about helping people. Hollier pointed to how one of their first questions about all the changes was also to make sure those who are uninsured will continue to be cared for. He says that speaks to their dedication.