LOS ANGELES, CA — L.A. Care awarded nearly $4.3 million for physician recruitment this month, with 29 grants to help bring more physicians into the safety net, helping to relieve the strain that has worsened during the pandemic.
The Elevating the Safety Net Provider Recruitment Program grants were awarded in September and several Los Angeles and Long Beach clinics are some of the recipients.
As the pandemic has hit local communities, it’s put an increased challenge for staffing in safety-net clinics across the U.S. This health emergency has put more pressure on an already existing physician shortage and exacerbated this great need.
There’s been a lot of flux at the clinics and during the beginning of the pandemic there was a push to do telemedicine—connecting people to clinics via technology, Cynthia Carmona, Senior Director of Safety Net Initiatives at L.A. Care Health Plan told Patch. Now, there’s a demand for face-to-face visits.
“Now that we’re kind of getting back into the swing of things, we’re kind of back to seeing what we had before,” Carmona told Patch. “That demand for those provider recruitment grants have stayed very strong.”
In 2018, L.A. Care launched the program, which is a five-year, $155 million initiative to recruit highly qualified primary care physicians into the Los Angeles County safety net. Safety net providers offer health care access to a substantial share of the Medi-Cal population and the uninsured.
“To date, L.A. Care has awarded 148 physician recruitment grants, and 90 new physicians have been recruited into the L.A. County safety net,” John Baackes, L.A. Care CEO, said in a news release. “We are extremely proud of the impact this initiative is having, increasing health care access for our members.”
Each new physician recruited into the safety net can serve as many as 2,000 new patients and create a vital support system in the LA communities.
The grants announced today are worth nearly $4.3 million, bringing the total award amount from all six rounds to nearly $19 million.
The seventh round awardees are:
- All for Health, Health for All, Burbank
- All-Inclusive Community Health Center, Burbank
- AltaMed Health Services Corp., Huntington Park
- Angeles Community Health Center, Huntington Park
- APLA, Los Angeles/Long Beach
- AppleCare Hospitalist Medical Group, Lynwood
- Asian Pacific Health Care Venture, Los Angeles
- Bartz-Altadonna Community Health Center, Lancaster/Palmdale
- Center for Family Health and Education, Long Beach
- Central Neighborhood Health Foundation, Inglewood
- Comprehensive Community Health Centers, Los Angeles
- East Valley Community Health Center, Pomona/West Covina
- Harbor Community Clinic, San Pedro
- Ideal Health Care and Medical Clinic, Los Angeles
- JWCH, Lynwood/Downey
- Kedren Community Health Center, Los Angeles
- Kids and Teens Medical Group, San Fernando
- MLK Community Health Foundation, Compton/Los Angeles
- Northeast Community Clinic, Los Angeles
- Saban Community Clinic, Los Angeles
- South Bay Family Health Care, Redondo Beach
- T.H.E. Health and Wellness, Los Angeles
- Tender Care Community Clinic, Downey
- The Children’s Clinic, Long Beach
- UMMA Community Clinic, Los Angeles
- Uptimum Medical Group, Inglewood
- Venice Family Clinic, Venice/Santa Monica
- Wilmington Community Clinic, Wilmington
Loans are a huge challenge for physicians and a high demand for loan repayment options.
“There’s a massive shortage of healthcare providers, not just across California but the country,” Carmona told Patch. “Our aging population is growing and primary health care providers are most needed.”
Newly recruited physicians to the safety net are eligible for the Provider Loan Repayment Program, another part of the program. Under the program, physicians receive loan repayments of up to $5,000 per month for up to 36 months, as long as they continue to work within the safety net. So far, 67 physicians have been approved for loan repayment grants.
The group also offers residency support, which is important in a state like California, where residencies are limited for physicians. There aren’t enough residency spots in the state, Carmona told Patch.
“You can have all the doctors you want who go through medical school but they have to go through residency to practice,” Carmona said.
The group is working to create additional spots.
“We’re doing a pipeline approach because it’s not about the process to get more doctors,” Carmona told Patch. “There have to be more residency spots. There have to be more medical residencies.
It’s going to take time to change and develop resources for the pandemic and beyond.
“It’s absolutely a marathon and not a sprint and I think anyone in the health care world would tell you that,” Carmona said. “It’s not a quick fix.”
“Even in the pandemic, it really matter,” Carmona told Patch. “You just don’t have doctors. Just because it’s a pandemic it doesn’t mean that we have those resources at hand. Having those resources takes a long time to develop, and even for just the day-to-day.”
L.A. Care Health Plan serves more than 2.1 million members in Los Angeles County and is the largest publicly operated health plan in the country. L.A. Care offers four health coverage plans including Medi-Cal, L.A. Care Covered™, L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and the PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan. To learn more about the grant and other programs in the Elevating the Safety net, visit the website: .