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Fed Funding Aids Primary Care Need

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, November 18, 2010

Danbury Hospital is a "designated professional health storage area in the area of primary care," Ahmadi says. It is one of only two Connecticut institutions and eight in the nation to receive funding for the program under the Health Resources and Services Administration. As Danbury Hospital attempts to make a dent in the primary care physician shortage, its effort also is testament to Ahmadi's work as a grant writer, and the value for providers to wade through the bureaucracy, to get the money, as well providing care.

Ahmadi notes that an internal assessment completed by the hospital's staff showed that there was a shortage of nearly two dozen physicians within the Danbury service area. The city of Danbury itself has a population of 75,000.

Ahmadi says Danbury received the grants for primary care physicians, and while there is a need, he acknowledges, there is plenty of need throughout the country. He says Danbury's situation may be a "local magnification" of that need.

As Ahmadi sees it, it was up to him to lay out for the federal government what that need was&mdashand is.

Under the five-year federal grant, Danbury Hospital will establish a three-year residency program for a total of 18 candidates with six primary care physicians graduating each year. Four physicians have begun training at the hospital already. If the funding is extended, more will follow.

Even before the grant was approved, "we started developing a curriculum and training program," he says. "A few months after they announced the grants, I was ready and had a program in place, and now proposing to expand it." Expanding the "primary care workforce," Ahmadi says, "is a national priority."

Of course, there's a whole backstory to this, and it's something that healthleaders are all too familiar with, but obviously must be mentioned.

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