New doctors undergoing training at Lafayette General

Monday marked Lafayette General Medical Center’s first day as a teaching hospital with 22 new doctors undergoing training at the private hospital as part of its takeover of University Medical Center.

The doctors will spend time training at both Lafayette General and the former UMC, which is now called University Hospital & Clinics. UMC had been the Acadiana area’s only teaching hospital.

University Hospital will maintain its graduate medical education programs. However, the private hospital’s takeover enabled it to expand the number of residents training in the community by 18 and provide an additional site for their training experience.

Residents are recent medical school graduates who practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed doctor for three years.

To become a teaching hospital, Lafayette General expanded services and spent $2 million on contracts with 65 private physicians, said David Callecod, president and chief executive officer of Lafayette General.

The contracted physicians will serve as LSU Health Sciences Center faculty to supervise the training of residents, Callecod said.

Based on the recommendation of a consulting firm, Germane Solutions, the hospital started a new surgical hospitalist program, Callecod said. Such programs are recognized in graduate medical education as a best practice, he added.

A hospitalist is a physician who specializes in the care of hospitalized patients.

“We created the first-ever surgical hospitalist program in Acadiana,” Callecod said. “It’s the first 24-hours, 365-days-a-year, Lafayette General-based surgeon program.”

The hospital contracted with five local surgeons to allow the hospital to provide 24-hour surgical coverage, he said.

Callecod said the hospital also spent about $500,000 renovating and improving its graduate medical education administrative offices and its resident on-call office, which includes sleeping rooms and a lounge.

The hospital also contracted with three apartment complexes to provide housing for residents. By 2014, it plans to complete its own housing complex off of Girard Park and Hospital Drives, Callecod said.

A total of 16 new, first-year residents began their training at both sites on Monday, with eight training in family medicine and eight training in internal medicine.

At Lafayette General, physicians, nurses and hospital staff lined the main hallway of the hospital’s entrance Monday morning, applauding the 22 first-, second-, and third-year residents as they entered their new training ground.

The two sites combined have 84 residency positions. The expansion of the graduate medical education program in Lafayette allowed the addition of residents in anesthesiology, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedics, surgery and otorhinolaryngology (ENT).

For some of the positions, the new doctors serve a two- to four-month rotation and are replaced by another rotating resident from another training hospital.

Lafayette General took over management of the former UMC last week as part of a $15.8 million annual, long-term lease agreement with the state Department of Health and Hospitals and LSU. The former public hospital will continue to serve as a safety net hospital, providing care to the uninsured and underinsured.

The opportunity to train at a private hospital and a safety net hospital provides a broader experience for residents to train in a private hospital setting with different physician perspectives and a “wealth of resources available,” said Dr. Anu Tammareddi, a second-year internal medicine resident.

Tammareddi trained last year at UMC and began her second-year of her residency at Lafayette General on Monday.

“I’m excited and glad that Lafayette General was able to do this because I didn’t know what would have happened to our patients or to our program,” she said. The increase in the number of residency spots enabled University Hospital to reopen its orthopedic clinic, which closed due to state budget cuts at the public hospital last year.

The clinic reopened last week, in anticipation of the residents’ arrival, said Jared Stark, CEO of University Hospital & Clinics.

In time, clinical services that were either reduced or stripped away by budget cuts at the public hospital in the past few years will be restored, Callecod said.