A federal grant will put more primary care providers in medically-underserved areas of southeast Michigan.
The $21 million grant will help train medical residents in five federally-qualified health centers.
The program is a partnership between Michigan State University’s medical school and the Detroit-Wayne County Health Authority.
Chris Allen is CEO of the Health Authority. He says it will add much-needed primary care doctors to the medical safety net.
“And it ultimately will provide medical homes for the people who live in these areas, and thus not a reliance on the emergency room for their care," he said.
Allen says residents who participate in the program will be eligible for medical school loan forgiveness.
The plan is to train 85 residents over three years, starting next summer. Allen says after learning the practice in southeast Michigan residencies, the new doctors will stay in the area.
Dr. William Strampel is with MSU’s medical school. He says the project should cut down on emergency room visits for treating chronic health problems like diabetes and hypertension.
Strampel says without enough doctors to go around, long wait times prevent some people from getting regular check-ups.
"If you get a couple of internal medicine or family medicine residents," he said,"it doubles or triples the amount of patients that can be seen in the same timeframe."
The program could also help the region deal with the potential for a big increase in the number of Medicaid patients.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will heavily subsidize states that expand their Medicaid programs.
-Elaine Ezekiel contributed to this story