New LSU Health Shreveport Expansion Will Benefit Students and Medical Field

It was recently announced that LSU Health Shreveport will be expanding with a new 155,000-square-foot Center for Medical Education and Emerging Viral Threats, a facility that will greatly benefit students and the region at large. This feature article from the LSU Media Center details that the new Center for Medical Education and Emerging Viral Threats is more than 75% complete and on track to open this fall. According to the feature, students, faculty, and leaders at LSU Health Shreveport are already beginning to see the impacts that the new addition will have on them, their careers, and North Louisiana health in general.

Louisiana State University is the primary source of new physicians in Louisiana, which has three medical schools. Each year, LSU Health Shreveport graduates 150 doctors, New Orleans School of Medicine graduates 200, and Tulane University School of Medicine graduates 190. Additionally, two out of every three physicians in Louisiana are LSU alumni, so this expansion of the LSU Health Shreveport campus will undoubtedly only have positive impacts on students, education, and the medical field in Louisiana.

Louisiana Senator Greg Tarver, who is a longtime champion of LSUHS and an undertaker by profession, spoke about the new expansion by saying, “LSU Health Shreveport has been instrumental in getting Louisiana and the country through the pandemic. We’re so fortunate to have it up here. It’s a cherry for North Louisiana. It drives economic development for this entire region, and I’ve seen it.”

This new LSU Health Shreveport expansion will be the first new building on the LSUHS campus in over 15 years, as it will be replacing and expanding facilities that were built in 1970. Last year, the Louisiana legislature gave $18.7 million in additional support toward the completion of the center to LSUHS. This was in addition to $2.1 million that was given to modernize and expand its Gross Anatomy Lab with a minimum of 50 dissection stations, pathology camera, and ventilation that’s state-of-the-art.

LSUHS Vice Chancellor of External Affairs and Chief of Staff Markey Pierre spoke about the program and the upcoming expansion by saying, “we create our own workforce here in northwest Louisiana—we train, educate and grow our own excellence for this region and for our state. We’ve been in separate buildings, so we’ve barely seen each other.”

Pierre went on to say, “the new center will allow us to work together in teams, more like in the real world where you have doctors, nurses, techs, and therapists working together. I’m especially excited about the new simulation labs that will give students more hands-on experience and the ability to communicate and work as a team for more patient-centered care. As a result, whenever someone goes to a hospital in this region years from now, their care is going to be better and more seamless.”

Over the past 50 years, the number of student cohorts at LSUHS have grown incrementally– from 32 to 150. Despite this, the homegrown supply of new physicians has continued to struggle to meet state demands. This is due to the fact that while half of all LSUHS medical students go on to practice in Louisiana, all but six of the state’s 64 parishes are medically underserved, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

The new center’s classroom will be able to accommodate up to 250 students, and the new auditorium will be able to hold 500 students. The new center will have four floors with the first three dedicated to medical education and the top floor will reportedly include the “Center for Emerging Viral Threats, or CEVT, and BSL-2 and BSL-3 biosafety labs for the study and diagnosis of pathogens, including potentially hazardous viruses, bacteria, cell cultures, parasites, and fungi.”

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Culinary Medicine Partnership

In partnership with LSU Health New Orleans, Nicholls State University proudly announced its latest offering– a two-week course in culinary medicine beginning in the summer session of 2019. The program began July 1st. Nine third-year LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine students are enrolled. They are currently studying the possible preventative effects that nutrition can have in treating chronic diseases, as well as the crucial, fundamental culinary skills and recipes to promote good nutrition. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, eating patterns and specific foods have proven to be effective treatments in some cases of epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and acute cough.

Dr. John La Puma, the founder of ChefMD and Chef Clinic, defined culinary medicine as: an evidence-based field that blends the art of cooking with the science of nutrition. It is multidisciplinary in its way of blending art and science, which are arguably very similar in that they both take time, craft, and attention. Culinary medicine promotes the teamwork of physicians and nutrition professionals to prevent and treat patients’ illnesses by learning more about the food we eat.

“The Office of Undergraduate Medical Education is excited to offer this career planning elective to the Class of 2021. While students are taught the science of nutrition during their first and second years of medical school, the Culinary Medicine CPE gives them the opportunity to translate this into practical knowledge,” Dr. Catherine Hebert, the associate professor of clinical medicine and co-director of clinical sciences curriculum at LSU Health New Orleans stated. She continued, “It is not just about telling a patient to cut out salt and fat. It is about teaching them how to do this in a way that is realistic given the time and money constraints that we all face.”

During the course, students begin the day in the classroom. Here, they learn nutrition theory through lectures, case studies, and simulations that focus on such ailments as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, heart disease, and obesity. In the afternoon, the third-year will move from classroom to kitchen in order to learn fundamental culinary skills and related recipes from chefs and other culinary professionals. What is learned in the morning is then created in the afternoon, meaning that the nutrition content learned at the head of the day is used in relevant recipes in the afternoon. The Culinary Department Head Chef John Kozar gave the example, “Let’s say they learn about diabetes in the morning, we will work on dishes appropriate for the diabetic patient in the afternoon.”

The learning does not stop at the walls of the classroom or kitchen. Students will also take field trips to Rouses Supermarket with a Registered Dietician (RD), tour the kitchen at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, and test their new nutritional knowledge at local restaurants.

“This is an exciting opportunity for both Dietetics and the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute to have an even bigger impact on the community,” expressed Dr. Brigett Scott, associate dean of the College of Science and Technology and associate professor of dietetics. “What people eat has one of the biggest impacts on their health. Ultimately, the goal is that these future doctors will practice in Louisiana and promote the nutrition and culinary skills they learned to make an impact on the health of our community.”

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