Well, ten years later, here it is.
Charity's replacement hospital has finally arrived and the New Orleans propaganda machine is in full swing. Ten years ago, LSU and the State of Louisiana - under Governor Kathleen Blanco - shut down Charity Hospital even after it was cleaned and ready to reopen. Today CEO's, Politicians and developers celebrate.
However, the New York Times took a more sober look in an article posted today as the question was asked - can the new privately operated UMC hospital preserve its mission?
"But while University Medical Center is taking Charity’s place as the city’s main trauma and safety-net hospital, its ambitions go far beyond that, to providing high-end specialty care to privately insured patients from around the state and beyond. For that and other reasons, concerns that began when the state shuttered Charity immediately after Katrina — unnecessarily, critics still say — persist."
Proponents say that "diversifying the patient mix was crucial to being able to carry on the mission of caring for the indigent." The reasoning is that with the Affordable Care Act soon to decrease federal funding for uncompensated care, finding new sources of revenue is imperative.
One has to wonder how they knew in 2005 when Charity's doors were locked and patients and staff kicked out to the street, that President Obama would be elected and the Affordable Care Act would be passed.
Critics worry whether the Louisiana Children's Medical Center Corporation [LCMC] will be able to meet Its obligation to provide free or reduced-cost care to all indigent and uninsured patients and:
"Unlike Charity, where many a New Orleanian was born, University Medical Center will not deliver babies — another hospital run by its private operator, Touro Infirmary, offers that service. And it will have far fewer beds for psychiatric patients than Charity, which had nearly 100 inpatient beds plus a 40-bed crisis intervention unit. The new hospital will have 60 psychiatric inpatient beds but will use only 38 to start, transferring patients from a facility that had been housing them since the storm."
Many questions have yet to be answered. Was the price that patients and residents - tax payers - of New Orleans had to pay worth it? In the article, Dr. DeBlieux says “That’s far too complex a question for me to answer.”
SaveCharityHospital.com offers readers an archive of information that documents that "price".
The blog site Inside The Footprint is another great resource for folks who are interested in an intimate look at the razing of 70 acres of the Lower MidCity historic neighborhood to make way for the new UMC and VA hospitals and learning more about the ripping apart of a tight knit community. Documented are the stories of everyday people who did everything they were told to do to rebuild their neighborhood after Hurricane Katrina only to see their houses demolished or mangled in order to be carted off on trailers and dropped into vacant lots in other unsuspecting neighborhoods.
Why were 70 acres of land needed to build two new hospitals that have less hospital beds than Big Charity and the old VA hospital combined? Both of these buildings sit abandoned on about 3 city blocks.
Roberta Brandes Gratz answered that question in her 2011 article: Why Was New Orleans’s Charity Hospital Allowed to Die? Seeking government funds for a massive $1.2 billion new complex, powerful forces blocked Charity's reopening after Hurricane Katrina.
Citizens still wait for some federal investigation on how this was all allowed to happen with taxpayers money.