LSUHSC GERIATRIC FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM COMES BACK HOME LEAVING LEGACY IN LAFAYETTE
New Orleans, LA – After three and a half years in Lafayette, LA where it moved as a result of the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the LSUHSC Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Program is back home. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has notified program director Dr. Charles Cefalu, Professor of Medicine and Chief of Geriatric Medicine at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine, that the move to New Orleans has been approved and that the Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Program in New Orleans has earned accreditation effective July 1, 2009.
The program is a one-year clinical fellowship in Geriatric Medicine, available to Family Medicine and Internal Medicine residents who have satisfactorily completed their residency and are board eligible in their specialty of Family Medicine or Internal Medicine. Two positions are available and time of entrance is flexible, depending on the applicant. Rotational experiences include geriatric psychiatry, physical medicine and rehabilitation, geriatric consultation/concentrated LTC experience, special clinics (Pain, Orthopaedics, Urology, Neurology,) home care, hospice and an elective. Longitudinal experiences include home care, nursing home, and primary care clinic.
Dr. Cefalu commuted to Lafayette once or twice a week to supervise fellows and take care of administrative duties while the fellowship program was housed at LSU’s University Medical Center (UMC). In the early days, there was no office, telephone or administrative support. He was successful in obtaining an emergency grant from the Hartford Foundation for temporary housing without which the fellowship program would not have survived.
"Dr. Cefalu is to be commended for his dedication, commitment, and sacrifice to maintain this vitally needed asset for Louisiana’s elderly through an enormously trying time," notes Dr. Steve Nelson, Dean of the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine
While in Lafayette, Dr. Cefalu helped LSU faculty at UMC in Lafayette to establish a Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Program of their own which was approved in 2006. Both of the fellows in the program at the time of the disaster, one who started in July of 2005 and the other on September 1, 2005, graduated, at which point Dr. Cefalu directed his attention to rebuilding the program in New Orleans. The Hartford Foundation provided a $500,000 grant to support that effort.
"The State of Louisiana owes Dr. Cefalu a huge debt of gratitude for his tireless efforts on behalf of our elders," says Dr. Larry Hollier, Chancellor of LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. "He not only saved the state’s one Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Program, but he established a second and is now working to expand capacity."
Data from 2005 indicated that at that time, there was a shortfall of 209 geriatricians in the state. The Governor’s Office of the Elderly estimates that there are now about 725,000 Louisiana residents 65 years and older. The two LSU Geriatric Medicine Fellowship programs are the only two in Louisiana and a new requirement for certification in Geriatrics is completion of an accredited fellowship in Geriatric Medicine
"While we celebrate every step forward, we need to do more to catch up with the rest of the nation," notes Dr. Cefalu. "There is a huge need to expand training in this increasingly needed subspecialty across the State of Louisiana, including other members of the team in Geriatrics and Gerontology where there is also a huge need – nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, social workers, nutritionists, and health care administrators."
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