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FAR Fund Grant
How can a therapist help a patient when both have experienced the same trauma? The FAR fund, a group of anonymous donors in New York, has given a five-year grant to the New Orleans-Birmingham Psychoanalytic Center to explore the issue. The goal of the grant, which started in June, is to support mental-health providers through education, outreach and research. Through the program, mental-health providers will learn about collective trauma and how Hurricane Katrina affected them. This will give them more insight into psychotherapy as well as specific ways to help patients.

"People in New Orleans are probably not aware of the psychoanalytic resource that exists here," says center member Dr. Kathy Nathan. One upcoming program is a set of interviews in September in which any local mental-health provider can participate, followed by a lecture and workshops in February.

Nathan hopes to achieve much in the coming year. "The idea is that we would create programs that would be self-perpetuating," she says. After creating a more cohesive mental-health community, the next stage of the grant would be establishing low-cost, innovative programs for people in the community.

Ochsner Baptist to Open ER
One of the biggest problems facing health care in New Orleans is long waits in emergency rooms, which can be not only annoying but dangerous. By reopening the emergency room at Ochsner Baptist Medical Center (OBMC), officials hope to minimize the problem of time. Ochsner will provide a full-service emergency room, complete with a 12-bed facility, starting sometime before the end of the year.

"It's obviously going to be another admission point into the hospital for patients, and it's going to relieve a lot of the crowding in the emergency rooms citywide," says OBMC CEO Robert Wolterman. In fact, Oschner expects that at least 15,000 patients will be seen by health professionals in the ER in 2009. The ER will also include radiological services like MRIs and CAT scans, and will have a lab. The new ER, which is about 50 percent complete, will not be equipped for trauma cases, open-heart surgery or neurological cases.

Ochsner hopes to add more services to the OBMC campus in the future, including a Senior Living Center.

First Probiotic Pizza
Pizza is supposed to cause indigestion, but a new recipe may actually reverse that effect. World's Healthiest Pizza, which will change its name to Naked Pizza this month, has found a way to make pizza an asset to intestinal health with the addition of probiotics. Currently found in refrigerated items such as yogurt, probiotics are dietary supplements containing beneficial bacteria and yeasts.

"With our pizza, we try to fortify and boost human immunity, which means stimulating the growth of healthy bacteria," says Jeff Leach of World's Healthiest Pizza.

Probiotics normally do not survive the harsh environment of the human stomach, but the local pizza purveyor has teamed up with a Miami lab to use a heat-resistant probiotic strain, which reportedly is 10 times more effective than the standard probiotic. This means that the micro-organisms should reach the small intestine and colon, which affect overall immunity.

Leach says the new product will be the first probiotic pizza in North America and will have a 100 percent organic backbone of multigrain crust, sauce and cheese that is low-calorie, low-carb and additive-free.

Grant Program Draws Doctors
Despite the many shortcomings of local health care, recruiting physicians to New Orleans seems to be working. A recent report published by the American Journal of the Medical Sciences concludes that there are 256 doctors per 100,000 people in Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes, which is above the national average of 237. Local medical schools have rebounded as well, with Tulane University Medical School applications for this year increasing to a record 8,300.

The Greater New Orleans Service Corp, a grant program that allows medical students to pay off their loans by working with uninsured patients in the city for three years, has been instrumental in retaining primary-care physicians. The federal government has aided the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals since early 2007, and more than a third of the $39.2 million package has been spent on that program and other methods of recruiting and retention.

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