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Straight Answers For seniors and disabled adults in Louisiana, getting help is now only a phone call away. Instead of making numerous calls and office visits in order to register for various federal and state programs, seniors and disabled adults now can use Louisiana Answers as a one-stop shop for arranging assistance with prescription medications, home health, food, furniture and other needs.

"Basically, we're a single point of entry for seniors and disabled adults," says Makitha Horton, the New Orleans coordinator for the program.

Louisiana Answers recently expanded statewide, including a new office at 2475 Canal St., Suite 211 (827-7843). The program is part of a national effort that is funded by the U.S. Administration of Aging and the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid.

Horton says the New Orleans office has social workers available who can answer questions for seniors, disabled adults (ages 21 years and older) and their caregivers to help individuals make more informed choices. Once they've decided what they need, the social worker will make the necessary arrangements. The program's Web site, www.louisianaanswers.com, is currently being updated. It eventually will be another place for people to register for the program.

For more information, residents in Orleans, Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parish should call (888) 922-8522, and those in Jefferson, St. Charles, St. John and St. James Parish should call (800) 635-1437. Ochsner Gets the Picture Ochsner Baptist Medical Center Uptown is opening a $10 million, 22,000-square-foot imaging center at 2820 Napoleon Ave.

The center will offer the latest in state-of-the-art equipment, including a 64-slice CT scanner, MRI, ultrasound, radiography and other imaging devices. Additionally, a Picture Archive and Communication System (PACS) will allow doctors at Ochsner Baptist to view patient images in their offices, throughout the hospital and anywhere they have Internet access.

Curtis Dosch, CEO of Ochsner Baptist Medical Center, says the closing of hospitals after the storm resulted in fewer available imaging facilities. He says the new Uptown center will make it easier for all patients who need imaging services, not just those who stay at the hospital.

"This was constructed in a vein to capture the outpatient market," Dosch says. "This is meant to be more customer-friendly."

Doctors often don't know whether an X-ray is required until they examine a patient, Dosch says, so an imaging center will help speed up the process by handling unscheduled services.

"We do a lot of business that isn't scheduled," Dosch says.

He adds that the new imaging center will enable Ochsner to recruit more doctors to its Baptist location and is part of its two-year revitalization plan for the Uptown campus. Ease Their Minds Recognizing the continuing need for mental health services for Orleans Parish children, America's New Orleans Fund is awarding $1 million in grants to six local agencies. The money will be used to expand services for children from low-income families who are suffering from mild to moderate mental illness.

The six grant recipients will employ a variety of methods to reach out to kids and their families who are still affected by aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans Children's Health Project will operate a mobile clinic for uninsured children, and LSU Health Sciences Center's department of psychiatry will offer services to children in Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

Family Services of New Orleans is creating a children's mental health center at its Canal Street offices and expects to treat a total of 170 children. Children's Bureau of New Orleans is providing trauma-related clinical intervention for children and families experiencing psychological, social and behavioral problems.

Kingsley House Inc. will conduct 1,000 needs assessments and offer counseling to about 100 families. Lafayette Academy Charter School is providing post-disaster and mental health and support services to the students, faculty and staff at the school.

The America's New Orleans Fund was created through donations from across the globe to aid the city's recovery. It is administered through Greater New Orleans Foundation. Find Help at Luke's House Accessible health care remains a precious commodity in post-Katrina New Orleans, especially for the uninsured. Luke's House: A Clinic for Healing and Hope, a new free clinic at the Mount Zion United Methodist Church (2700 Louisiana Ave.), should ease some of the burden. The clinic is open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Tuesday and offers primary care for adults and children. It also provides free counseling and medical referrals to New Orleans residents.

Medical professionals, counselors, social workers, Spanish translators or anyone who wants to volunteer should contact Jiselle Bock at 899-3431.

click to enlarge Uninsured and underinsured children can receive medical care through new programs.
  • Uninsured and underinsured children can receive medical care through new programs.
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