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Fed Funding Aids Primary Care Need

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, November 18, 2010

Ramin Ahmadi, MD, director of medical education and research at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut, is finding a way to get more primary care physicians into his community.

Follow the money. The government's money, that is.

Ahmadi has been doing it for years, no matter where's he's been. He doesn't just follow the money, he tries to get ahead of the game. He watches legislation and gets a sense of what Congress is up to, what the government may want to see among those communities seeking money. He does research, helps residents get started, writes grants, and tries to get a sense early on where the money may be flowing.

After he graduated from Yale medical school and worked in New Haven years ago, he wrote grants to help get more primary care doctors into that area. At Griffin Hospital in Derby, CT, he did the same thing. So, while he was working at Danbury Hospital, Congress was putting together the "stimulus package" from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, and Ahmadi was already thinking ahead, seeing the monetary possibilities to help the hospital and the community attract more primary care physicians.

Danbury put in its application for a grant early, and by the time the government was deciding where to put the money, Ahmadi was pretty sure Danbury, a 371-bed regional medical center and university teaching hospital, was going to get some of it. Sure enough, it did.

The hospital received a five-year, $1.2 million grant to establish an innovative primary care residency program that focuses on the "patient-centered medical home" model and encourages primary care physicians to care for the underserved. The grant from the Department of Health and Human Services essentially is designed to strengthen the primary care workforce and provide community-based intervention.

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