Southern Rural Access Program: Tina Monlezun

Louisiana Southern Rural Access Program

Dates of Project: July 1997 to August 2009

Field of Work: Increasing access to health care in rural, underserved areas of eight Southern states

Synopsis of the Work: The Southern Rural Access Program was a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that worked to increase access to health care in rural, underserved areas of eight southern states. The states recruited and retained rural primary care providers, offered programs to attract students committed to working in rural areas to the health professions and help prepare them for training programs, developed collaborative networks of rural health providers, and developed loan funds to help rural health providers improve their practices. Louisiana was one of the participating states.

Story Told: Lake Arthur, a town of 2,900 people in southwest Louisiana, lost its health clinic a few years back, and some local residents—mostly shrimpers, oil workers and farmers working for low wages and without health benefits—had no health care since then. Nurse practitioner Tina Monlezun, RN, MSN, bought the vacant clinic building and with a loan from Louisiana's Southern Rural Health Access project, was able to open the clinic and cover costs such as personnel and equipment. Within five years, Monlezun had a staff of 10 providing care to almost 3,700 people. Read the clinic's story in the sidebar.