charity's blog

Adaptive Reuse Proposal Synopsis for Charity Hospital

After several meetings with healthcare and justice advocates, proposes that the million square foot Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital Buildng be developed to consolidate organizations tasked with finding solutions to systemic challenges of mental illness, homelessness and meaningful workforce development into one space. Any parties interested in participating in this initiative should contact us through our contact form - or directly at 

Stay tuned for updates and meeting announcements.

Here is the proposal synopsis to reuse the Charity Hospital Building As A Mental Health Facility:

A plan exists that involves adapting the Charity Hospital Building in New Orleans into a comprehensive/cohesive/multi-complex facility to house various health and research organizations that, collectively, would act as a “nerve center” to drive a regional 10 to 15 year strategic master-plan designed to address systemic challenges of mental illness, homelessness and workforce inertia.

In short - the space would be divided up into four parts:

  • Clinical research
  • Affordable housing
  • A crisis unit/restorative center to provide long-term inpatient care to patients with mental illness as an alternative to incarceration - including rehabilitation for substance abusers
  • The remainder of the space is to be used by a network of organizations collaborating together under one roof to drive a 10-15 year comprehensive plan that acts as the nerve center that drives implementation of the plan region-wide.

An expanded version of the plan, and how the space can be used, would involve many components working in conjunction with one another. Here are some of the more outstanding:

  • Long-term Inpatient facilities including rehabilitation programs
  • Outpatient facilities such as the 88 primary care clinics that already exist.
  • Independent living and supportive communities like Exodus House with doctors and nurses on site.
  • Preventative and holistic health healing and treatment programs.
  • Aggressive marketing campaigns to - for example - alleviate the stigma around mental illness and generate positive messages that get people excited about wanting to work in their respective fields.
  • Urban Cooperative Development and investment to enable under-resourced people to be members and stakeholders in worker-owned businesses. Cooperatives allow members with good ideas the same entrepreneurship opportunities as people that perhaps more endowed.
  • Research Organizations
  • A cooperative sharing environment – implementation of the strategic master plan benefits from the entities being in close proximity to one another providing an opportunity to share resources, products and expertise
  • Affordable/Transitional housing for homeless people and/or people with certain types of mental illnesses.

Discussions need to pursue the possibility of diverting funding meant to ensure safe and constitutional facilities for inmates that suffer from mental illness at Orleans Parish Prison to a crisis unit/restorative center - at the Charity Hospital building - as part of the larger complex – providing treatments versus incarceration.

A portion of the million square foot building can be physically separated to create a crisis unit/restorative center with long-term beds to care for mentally ill people, reducing the necessity to incarcerate those who cannot find appropriate inpatient care nearby.

We are at a critical juncture in New Orleans. The fate of people afflicted with mental illness rests largely on whether or not we as a society choose to continue to incarcerate sick people under the department of corrections, or rather, create alternative facilities where patients can be cared for in a local hospital environment close to their families and community.

In terms of commercial real estate, it makes sense to reuse Charity for its originally intended purpose: i.e. medical use, that also complements the biomedical industry with a focus on mental health research.

Faced with the challenge of how to pay for a renovation that could potentially cost anywhere from $600 to $800 million dollars, proponents of this new initiative envision using multiple financing sources. Some possibilities include: bond money, State and Federal financing, grants, philanthropic gifts, international investment and historic and low income housing tax credits to help meet critical mental health needs and mitigate the lack of inpatient public psychiatric hospital beds locally - and regionally. A debt obligation to a bonding authority could be met by leasing out space to private health and research organizations.

That said: a long-term comprehensive plan is necessary to knit together systemic problems regarding the epidemic of mental illness, workforce, education and housing inequity. We need a roadmap that drives changes necessary to get to the roots of what is making people, cities and our society sick.

We have not only an epidemic of mental Illness locally and regionally; we also have an epidemic of abandoned hospitals and buildings. If the Charity Hospital as a Mental Health facility vision is successful, the model could be replicated in other Cities and States across the country.

The concept is not to recentralize people with mental illness inside of Charity Hospital, but rather to have the building act as the brain center to implement out a larger decentralization plan by creating programs that are missing and enhancing programs already in place.

The idea has been submitted to the Livable Claiborne Corridor Initiative in addition to the Mayor's office and the New Orleans Downtown Development District - among others.

Such a facility could be a model for the nation. 

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any suggestions, questions or concerns.

Charity Hospital Will Be ...............

On Wednesday June 11, Mayor Landrieu announced that he was rescinding his proposal to readapt the Charity Building for use as a Civic Center.

“I made this decision with my eyes wide open, and with the best interest of the entire city at the forefront. Simply put, we cannot afford the project at this time, given our other critical needs.” 

The decision to prioritize "critical needs" before political dreams is laudable - as was the decision in 2010 when the Mayor endorsed building a new Civil District Courthouse on Duncan Plaza - and it is encouraging to hear that the Mayor's eyes are once again wide open.

Speaking of the Civil District Courthouse....

State Legislation authorizes the City and/or the BioDistrict to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the State that allows for use of State owned land on Duncan Plaza that fronts Loyola Ave. to be donated to the City for the purposes of building a new courthouse and/or municipal complex.

Letter shows Mayor Landrieu endorsed building a new courthouse on Duncan Plaza

HB 1206 - pending signature by the Governor - says:
5. Authorize the commissioner of administration to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement relative to certain property in New Orleans or to transfer such property either for the appraised value or in exchange for value equivalent to the appraised value, except that it removes the authority for the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget to create a committee to provide a recommendation to the commissioner of administration regarding the transfer of the property sites.

The Mayor also announced that increased estimates in construction costs for the "Charity as a Civic Center" project contributed to his decision to withdraw the proposal.  It is not clear why the City didn't just look at the RMJM Hillier report. Costs of renovating the building were accurately outlined in that study.  Also, there were four other less expensive proposals Mayor Landrieu originally considered for City Hall.  

In an interview with Fox8, well-known architect Pres Kabacoff stated that he doesn't know of any development plans for Charity in the future.  It is not clear if he is including himself in that statement and it is not clear whether or not he has read the plan put forth by Save Charity Hospital to readapt the Charity Hospital Building as an Facility dedicated to inpatient mental health care, as well as for the advancement of mental health, medical and clinical research.  [See attached]

The Mayor's decision puts the ball back in the State's court to find a good adaptive reuse.  The LSU System maintains control over over the health of the Building and the Building itself.

However, according to Federal section 106 requirements, it was always the State's obligation to put the Building back into use through a 3 year marketing process to find a developer.  

In was reported recently in a exclusive, that:

""Under its accord with FEMA over the hospital complex, the state's Department of Administration agreed to complete a marketing study and spend three years shopping for a developer or a plan to revivify Charity. According to a May 21 letter from FEMA, that three-year period ends Sept. 7, "at which time (the state government) may dispose of Charity as it sees fit."

[Sandra] Stokes [of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana] has disagreed with that timeline, arguing that the state stopped marketing Charity as soon as Landrieu began to consider it as a possible new City Hall. When the marketing stopped, the clock on that three-year period should have, too, leaving the state obligated to continue marketing Charity beyond the summer, she said Thursday (June 11).""

At a BioDistrict Board Meeting on Friday 13, 2014, CAO Andy Kopplin maintained that "in 2010 the State did do an Request For Interest [RFI]" but there was no interest despite a $20 million dollar incentive by the State.  He indicated that City told the State that the incentive needed to be at least $100 million dollars in order to get a developer to jump on the Building and that their prediction proved right.

To date: whether or not that RFI was ever executed is unclear but will keep readers posted.

The aforementioned article says:

""A Department of Administration spokeswoman said the agency has no plans to demolish the building and that the search for potential developers will continue.

"As new plans are considered, we hope to continue working with Mayor Landrieu and the City of New Orleans to find an appropriate use for this site," the agency said in a statement.""

Hopefully - in this next round - the process of determining what Charity Hospital will be in the future will be a more democratic, transparent and accountable process with residents at the table so that our needs and desires for what we want done with OUR Building, and potentially OUR money, are heard and respected.

750 former employees gather for a sneak peek of the documentary film Big Charity

On Saturday April 19, 2014, 750 former Charity Hospital doctors, nurses, workers and volunteers attended a screening of the documentary film Big Charity - Co-Produced by Catherine Rierson, Ben Johnson [Composer] and Alex Glustrom [Director/Editor/].  

Please visit the website to see the trailer and learn how to donate to completing the project so that the world can know the Charity Hospital story.

In the words of one former employee featured in the film:
"A lot of people were not allowed to talk about what happened, and this documentary is going to show people exactly what happened and why it's not there any more."

Another former employee states:
"I don't think most people know the truth. I really don't."

The film documents the closure of Charity Hospital.  Readers of this blog will recognize some of the photo footage.  In May of 2009 published this post:

Today, Charity Hospital sits empty - awaiting an undetermined fate.

At a time when so many of our critical health needs have been neglected, RESIDENTS have the right to decide what will become of the Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital.

Different ideas have been discussed for her adaptive reuse but given the documented, overwhelming need for mental health services and facilities in New Orleans, it seems fitting that the building be renovated as a Mental Health Complex.

At a recent Senate hearing in Washington, Senator Dick Durbin stated:  "It's estimated the country has lost 90% of it's public psychiatric beds since the deinstitutionalization movement began."  Consequently, Jails and prisons have become our default mental health institutions. is in discussion with State and City officials and business leaders to advocate for the adaptive reuse of the Charity Hospital Building for the purposes of a mental health complex.  

It's time that the doors of Charity Hospital are opened once again to provide patients with sanctuary and the same love and care that was offered to residents for so many years.

We will be reaching out to our readers and the City at large for your support and suggestions in order to determine how you think the City should use the space appropriately.

Please contact us if you would like to receive news and updates using the contact form here:



Updated: 2014 City Wide Election: Where do the Candidates Stand?

Big Charity was - and still is - YOUR building. She does not belong to politicians or developers.

We feel strongly that at a time when so many of our critical health needs have been neglected, RESIDENTS have the right to decide what will become of the Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital.

As a response to current City policies that incarcerate people that are mentally ill, one potential adaptive reuse idea for the historic building is for a long-term mental health and medical research multi-complex. Such a use would meet the guidelines for funding by the Health Education Authority of Louisiana (HEAL) - a bonding agency.  Additional funding for the project could come from other bonding agencies, grants, State and Federal governments, philanthropic interests, private organizations, etc.

Inpatient Hospitals and outpatient clinics must work in tandem together in order to rehabilitate patients and prevent recidivism.  Imagine what a gift it would be to the friends and families of those who have fallen prey to the patient to prison pipeline to know that their loved ones are being cared for in a hospital instead of a jail cell. 

To really address the roots of how to treat the epidemic of mental illness locally - and nationally - there is also a need for preventative programs, supportive housing where patients live independently in communities with doctors and nurses living on site, and and aggressive campaign to address the issue of stigma.

The Charity Hospital Building could house such preventative care programs, clinical research and rehabilitation programs to deal with substance abuse.  There are a myriad of possibilities.

Feel free to explore our website to read our blog posts about the issue.  To learn more about why Save Charity Hospital thinks it's important, see the attached document at the bottom of this page.

During the Election, we asked all candidates in the race:  "Do you support studying the - [feasible] - concept of transforming the Charity Hospital Building into a world class mental health facility and research complex?"

Our new council members are scheduled to be sworn in May 5.  
Note: Winners names are emphasized 

Michael Bagneris [Yes]
Manny "Chevrolet" Bruno [withdrawn]
Danatus N. King [Yes]
Mitch Landrieu Incumbent [Funding possibilities have been discussed]

Candidates District A
David A. Capasso [Yes]
Jason Coleman [Yes]
Susan Guidry [Yes]
Stephen Gordon [Yes]
Drew Ward [Yes]

District B
LaToya Cantrell Incumbent [Yes]

District C
Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson [No]
Lourdes Moran [Yes]
Nadine Ramsey [Yes]
Carlos Williams [Yes]
Eloise Williams [Yes]

District D
Joseph Bouie [Yes]
Jared Brossett [Yes]
Dalton Savwoir Jr. [Yes]

District E
James Gray II Incumbent [yes]
Andre Kelly [Yes]
Cynthia Willard-Lewis [Yes]

At-Large Division 1
Eugene Green [Yes]
Stacy Head [Yes]

Incumbent At-Large Division 2
Ernest "Freddie" Charbonnet [Yes]
Cynthia Hedge-Morrell [Yes]
Jason Williams [Yes]

Quentin R. Brown [Yes]
Charles C. Foti Jr. [Tentative Yes]
Marlin N. Gusman [Yes]
Ira Thomas [Yes]

Clerk Civil District Court
Dale Atkins [Yes]

Clerk Criminal District Court
Robbie Keen [Yes] 
Arthur A. Morrell [Yes]

Erroll G. Williams

Vincent A. Culotta Jr. [Yes]
Dwight McKenna [Yes]
Jeffrey Rouse [Yes]

For more information on the Candidates, please visit the Secretary of State website and select Orleans Parish.



2014 City Wide Election: Where do the Candidates Stand?

The next couple of weeks will be very important in determining the fate of Big Charity. She was - and still is - YOUR building. She does not belong to politicians or developers.

We feel strongly that at a time when so many of our critical health needs have been neglected, RESIDENTS have a right to decide what will become of the Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital.

As a response to current City policies that incarcerate the mentally ill, one potential adaptive reuse idea for the historic building is for a long-term mental health and medical research multi-complex. Such a use would meet the guidelines for full funding by the Health Education Authority of Louisiana (HEAL) - a bonding agency - thus costing the City nothing. 

Inpatient Hospitals and and outpatient clinics must work in tandem together in order to rehabilitate patients and prevent recidivism.  Imagine what a gift it would be to the friends and families of those who have fallen prey to the patient to prison pipeline to know that their loved ones are being cared for in a hospital instead of a jail cell. 

We will keep you posted on the position of incumbents and candidates regarding Charity as they roll in. In the mean time, feel free to explore our website to read our blog posts about the issue.  To learn more about why Save Charity Hospital thinks it's important, see the attached document at the bottom of this page.

Question to the candidates:  "Do you support studying the - [feasible] - concept of transforming the Charity Hospital Building into a world class mental health facility and research complex?"

Michael Bagneris [Yes]
Manny "Chevrolet" Bruno [withdrawn]
Danatus N. King [Yes]
Mitch Landrieu Incumbent [Still no response]

Candidates District A
David A. Capasso [Yes]
Jason Coleman [Yes]
Susan Guidry [Yes]
Stephen Gordon [Yes]
Drew Ward [Yes]

District B
LaToya Cantrell Incumbent [Yes]

District C
Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson [No]
Lourdes Moran [Yes]
Nadine Ramsey [Yes]
Carlos Williams [Yes]
Eloise Williams [Yes]

District D
Joseph Bouie [Yes]
Jared Brossett [Yes]
Dalton Savwoir Jr. [Yes]

District E
James Gray II Incumbent [tentative yes]

Andre Kelly [Yes]
Cynthia Willard-Lewis [Yes]

At-Large Division 1
Eugene Green [Yes]
Stacy Head [tentative Yes]

Incumbent At-Large Division 2
Ernest "Freddie" Charbonnet [Yes]
Cynthia Hedge-Morrell [Yes]
Jason Williams [Yes]

Quentin R. Brown [Yes]
Charles C. Foti Jr. [Tentative Yes]
Marlin N. Gusman [Yes]
Ira Thomas [Yes]

Clerk Civil District Court
Dale Atkins [Yes]

Clerk Criminal District Court
Robbie Keen [Yes] 
Arthur A. Morrell [Tentative Yes]

Erroll G. Williams

Vincent A. Culotta Jr. [Yes]
Dwight McKenna [Yes]
Jeffrey Rouse [Yes]

For more information on the Candidates, please visit the Secretary of State website and select Orleans Parish.


The Lens Publishes RESIDENTS Ideas for Adaptive Reuse of Charity Hospital

Today, as part of The Lens series soliciting resident's ideas on "What to Do With Charity Hospital", 
our idea was published.

In previous blog posts regarding the City's idea to repurpose Charity Hospital as a civic center,
Save Charity Hospital has shed light on the enormous hurdles and financial burdens that would have to be overcome in order for that idea to work.  Not least of which - is the refusal by the Civil District Court Judges to move into and help finance the necessary Charity Hospital renovations.

As the story unravels, we have learned that Pres Kabacoff of HRI Properties seems to be the force behind the civic center idea as part of his one billion dollar vision to turn downtown New Orleans into an Afro-Caribbean Paris.   There is just one problem with his plan.  It is our billion dollars he is talking about.
Not his.

That said, we at Save Charity Hospital believe that the existing Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital Building can be repurposed to meet critical needs of residents rather than developers fantasies.

Our idea:

  • Would not cost the City a penny,
  • Would eventually provide revenue back to the buildings owner,
  • Would kick-start the mission of the BioDistrict to commercialize medical research and eventually manufacturing and production,
  • Would shift housing the mentally ill with long-term patient needs from the jail to the hospital,
  • Would transition mentally ill patients into supportive communities in-line with the City's initiatives to provide outpatient and tight wrap-around services and,
  • Would provide an additional facility where lost and abandoned dwellers in the Central Business District [CBD] and Downtown Development Districts [DDD] can go to be loved and cared for.  
  • Would provide a Government Service Offices One-Stop-Shop to residents that otherwise have to travel to multiple locations and multiple parishes to have their needs met.

In addition, the location is near the new VA and Louisiana Children's Medical Center/ University Medical Center Hospitals being built in Lower MidCity and is a perfect pairing with the old VA building being used as a facility to provide services to the homeless.

Read more about our idea below and visit The Lens article to comment.








Proposal for recycling Charity Hospital emphasizes mental health services






Janet Hays

Kimberlee Lauer

Janet Hays


Since Charity Hospital was abandoned after Hurricane Katrina, it seems like everyone and has come forward with a plan for the adaptive reuse of the Art Deco masterpiece. And yet eight years later it stands empty. Mayor Mitch Landrieu wants to put City Hall and Civil District Court in the building, though he hasn’t gotten the judges to agree. The Lens solicited the views of our readers and city leaders; over the next several days we are publishing edited versions of their ideas. Post your reactions in the comments below each story.

I recommend that the historic Charity Hospital building be renovated for inpatient psychiatric care, as well as mental-health, biomedical and life-sciences research, health-care cooperatives and clinics. The building could operate as a “one-stop shop” for government services that meet a variety of needs.

I am imagining the building divided into three components. One tower should be dedicated to mental-health needs. The middle portion should be renovated and leased to individuals and organizations involved in general health services, education and research.

The third tower should be a one-stop shop that might include welfare and food stamp offices, the New Orleans offices of the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals and its Department of Children and Family Services. Social Security offices could be housed there and perhaps some employment services as well. These government functions are currently scattered all over the city, making access very difficult for the poor and those most in need. And not only are they scattered, they seem to move every couple of years, so it’s not uncommon for people to miss crucial appointments – to say nothing of the cost of all this moving around to both the organizations and to taxpayers.


The health-education and research components would not only help spur development of Louisiana’s medical industry, they might also make the building eligible for bond money from the Health Education Authority of Louisiana. Rents from privately leased space could be used to finance the building’s psychiatric services and provide a funding mechanism to pay back the bond money.


As residents, tourists and business leaders regularly observe, the city’s downtown streets are home to a significant number of residents with apparent mental health problems. The numbers are likely to increase.

People with mental-health needs are often uninsured and stigmatized by a society that fears or scorns them. To top it off, both inpatient and outpatient care is grossly insufficient.

Those who have insurance can find long-term treatment in private facilities such as Children’s Hospital on State Street. Those without insurance are hard-pressed to find any services at all — outside of Orleans Parish Prison.

As a response to mental health needs, expanding the new jail to include an additional 600 beds is both inhumane and expensive. The majority of mentally ill people end up in jail because they stop taking their medications. Criminalizing them does not offer a long-term solution to recidivism.

Common sense tells us that a jail is not conducive to restoring mental stability. Indeed, problems are only likely to worsen in an environment bereft of the caring support of friends and families that mental patients need.

The sad truth is that Orleans Parish Prison is currently the city’s No. 1 psychiatric care facility. What we need instead are supportive communities with wrap-around services and outpatient care, places where patients can be housed after their discharge from hospitals.

Since the financial crisis hit in 2008, nearly 4,000 psychiatric beds have been eliminated nationwide or are being considered for elimination, and 11 state hospitals have been closed or are being considered for closure,according to a March 2011 report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. At the same time, community services, including crisis intervention and stabilization programs, have been eliminated.

In post-Katrina New Orleans, 65 to 70 percent of inpatient psychiatric beds have been eliminated.

“History illustrates that eliminating hospital beds without appropriate community alternatives is cruel, irresponsible public policy and leads to shifting of costs to criminal justice systems and emergency departments rather than true cost savings,” the report says.

“A range of options for responding to youth and adults in crisis is needed, including mobile crisis teams, 24-hour crisis-stabilization programs, and inpatient beds in community hospitals. It is also important to preserve beds in state hospitals, particularly for those individuals requiring intermediate or long-term care,” the report says.

Before the unnecessary closure of Charity, the hospital maintained approximately 128 psychiatric beds on the third floor. We should not be reinventing services that once made our community a national model.

Substantial evidence shows the feasibility of renovating Charity for psychiatric care. In August 2007, the state Office of Facility Planning and Control commissioned the Blitch Knevel architecture firm to study Charity’s potential for renovation. The study concluded that the psychiatric portion of the building could be brought back for about $50 million, a fraction of the cost of new construction. An alternative strategy for partially reactivating psychiatric services at Charity would cost less, the study concluded.

Other studies show that while the building may be unsuitable for courtrooms, it is perfect for a modern day hospital and, I would argue, research laboratories.

In the study ordered by the Louisiana Legislature and commissioned by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, RMJM Hillier, architects of the now operational Louisiana Cancer Research Center, showed that the entire building could be brought back as a full-service teaching hospital for $600 million — again, far less than the new construction going up on the other side of Claiborne Avenue.

In 2010, mental health professionals devised a one-year patient-rehabilitation program that would release patients into transitional communities with tight wrap-around services. That’s exactly the niche a repurposed Charity could fulfill, using just a third of the available space.

It is too late to right many of the wrongs that residents of New Orleans have had to endure throughout the years, but reusing Charity Hospital for medical services — a purpose for which it was always intended — is one wrong that is not too late to right. It enjoys enormous support from a cross-section of the community. And unlike a civic center, it would not cost city taxpayers a penny.

Janet Hays is a community organizer and justice advocate. As part of the Save Charity Hospital organization, she helped with research and outreach. She blogs at Save Charity Hospital.


Flying Without A Safety Net Means People Will Die‏

LSU's Decision to cut the charity out of the 7 Charity Hospitals in Southern Louisiana, instigated at the behest of the Governor to find a way to absorb Federal cuts to medicaid spending in Louisiana, speaks volumes about LSU's administrators disrespect for human life.  The Governor, for what appears to be political reasons, chose not to accept the Federal medicaid reinbursement that was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act.  This will hundreds of thousands uninsured, with nowhere to go.

Such a shame!  LSU physicians have a proven track record of offering some of the world's best and most advanced heathcare to all of their patients in Louisiana - regardless of class, race or economic situation.  Indeed, many insured people have communicated to that they would go nowhere else.  Doctors have offered their services with compassion and concern to all who enter any of the 10 State-run Charity Hospitals.

Medical students have traditionally come to New Orleans to study at Charity Hospital due to the challenging conditions, a complicated genetic mix and to participate in the most advanced medical scientific research in the country.  It seems that LSU is now mostly concerned with capitalizing on students to increase profit margins while eliminating services and programs for patients. Would potential students choose to study at LSU if they had to do their residencies at private hospitals under public/private partnerships with other hospitals. That question needs to be asked.  The national agency that accredits graduate medical education programs is pressing LSU officials for information on their plans to revamp physician training programs.

Compassion does not seem to imbibe to administrators and some legislators that dance to the Machiavellian beat of the Governor's drum.

That the decision to cut funding for the thousands of indigent, working poor and uninsured was implemented without first creating a system to absorb such patients means that many in Louisiana could very well die.
  This is not hyperbole.  Yet this was predictable.

The decision to privatize the Charity system - a single payer system thats biggest flaw was a lack of transparency and accountability - was made well before Katrina.

Brad Ott, is an expert in heathcare and, in particular, the Charity Hospital system and has revived Advocates for Louisiana Public Healthcare [ALPH] in the wake of the latest cuts.   His thesis is titled "The Closure of New Orleans' Charity Hospital After Hurricane Katrina: A Case of Disaster Capitalism"

There is a lot of evidence that LSU planned on closing Charity before Katrina.  See the part of his thesis  (after or about page 60) that deals with that hypothesis):

Ott points out that there are options to closing funding gaps without eviscerating charity care from the LSU system. 
The funding options include redirecting funds currently in the private schemes Bayou Health and the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership to public safety net LSU and community hospitals and clinics: and reallocation of DSH funds from provide providers to LSU and rural hospitals.

An old trick that right-wing conservatives use in order to eliminate government programs - that many people around the world know well - is to:   Intentionally starve the system to create it's collapse and then use it's collapse to show that it doesn't work and we must privatize it.  It seems that the people of Louisiana have fallen prey to this trick.

We are presented with this false choice by Governor Jindal and the LSU board of supervisors.  While the State had already cut the Charity system to the bone then,  because of  a federal $859 Million dollar cut to Louisiana's medicaid program, Governor Bobby Jindal decided to privatize the whole system.

Who wins and who loses under this sort of system?  Without transparency and accountability, what is to stop private insurance companies and/or hospitals from continuing to game the system?  The idea of forking over truckloads of public money to such private institutions before such regulations or partnerships are in place is distressing at best.

If that weren't enough,  at the LSU Health HCE Fall Quarterly Meeting October 16th, 2012, keynote speaker Dr. Opelka, emphasized that heathcare's future is no longer about bricks and mortar. Yet that's all we heard from LSU about why they had to build a Taj-Ma-Hospital in Lower MidCity on top of a now razed historic neighborhood and community. As well, at some point in the near future, New Orleans City Council will meet to turn over of Pershing Place (Nanny Goat Park) - our public park where the doughboy statue stands as a monument to WWI soldiers - to the State to increase land for a hospital that may be 100 beds at best.   Why on earth does the State need MORE land and why on earth would the Mayor and City Council allow it? Will that take more of the street grid? When the I-10 is dismantled -  (as planned) - think of the traffic nightmare.

So what can you do?


Sign this petition to the Lousiana Division of Administration & Department of Health and Hospitals to keep Southeast Louisiana Mental Hospital Open



Palas Hotel will implode July 22

Reporting on the University Medical Center Board meeting yesterday.

[Agenda attached]

During the public comments portion of the agenda, the following questions were asked:

  • Did the State perform all of the archaeological and environmental assessment studies according to the full programmatic requirements and where can people obtain copies of them?
  • When will the strategic part of the business plan that was promised last fall to the Joint Budget Committee - in order to obtain approval for construction - be completed so we can know how the new UMC academic medical center cash flow without any extra help from the State?
  • VAMC representatives stated during their presentation at the last UMC board meeting that their new hospital will cost 707 Million dollars to activate.  How much will it cost to activate the new UMC Hospital given the fact that enormous amounts of money will be necessary to repatriate staff and patients and promote the hospital to medical tourists? - A key component of the business plan?
  • The dismantling of the Palas Hotel piece by piece is a plan to avoid asbestos contamination when the building is imploded, yet the debris they are removing is often picked up by the wind from inside the building and spreading around the area.  Is this method of abatement within environmental laws?

While no answers were given regarding a strategic plan or activation costs, Tom Rish - the State official overseeing Skanska/'Mapp - [construction manager at risk] - said they did do archaeological studies  but did not say if studies met full programmatic requirements.  He said DEQ is overseeing all work being done on the Palas Hotel site.

Earlier this year, State Facility Planning and Control had to ask for an additional million plus dollars to remove the windows from the Palas Hotel because they discovered asbestos.  Now they are removing the skin also – dismantling it piece by piece.

The public relations, marketing and advertising group Bright Moments have been brought in to inform the community about how to protect themselves from dust and environmental impacts that will happen when the Grand Old Palace Hotel is imploded on July 22.  The contractors handling the demolition are Controlled Demolition Inc. and Contaminant Control Inc.

Also during the presentation updating board members on construction of the new hospital, the audience learned that the FEMA money for the contents of Charity Hospital that was said to be a done deal, is not a done deal.  Apparently there is some discrepancy between State and Federal FEMA representatives over compensation. Save Charity Hospital readers will recall that part of the money to pay for building the new hospital in the business plan that was presented to the State last fall in order to get the "all clear" for construction was that FEMA money.   

The other part of the plan that made up the difference for lack of funding was 132 million dollars that was to come from the Louisiana Physicians Foundation.  According to State officials, there is still no contract solidifying that agreement though there is a "commitment".

Let's hope for New Orleanians who have lived without a world class medical teaching facility for almost 8 years since it was shuttered by the State and LSU - and will not see one for at least 2 more years - that this commitment is honored!

What do administrators of the new VA hospital know that we don't?

There were some interesting developments at the UMC Board meeting last Thursday April 12, 2012.

First on the agenda was the selection - by lot - of either Delgado Community College or Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College for the revolving seat to succeed Dillard University "pursuant to Section 2(d) of Article 6 of the Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation of UMCMC. " 

In a somewhat mechanical and unremarkable moment, Delgado was selected by a draw to serve a "two (2) year term to commence upon the expiration of the two (2) year term of Charles Teamer representing Dillard University in August 2012."

This will be convenient for BioDistrict New Orleans who have been working closely with Delgado Community College on the plan to educate a workforce that will be conveyored into laboratories and research facilities to support the upper echelons of those fortunate enough to receive NIH grants.  BioDistrict New Orleans will hold their regular quarterly pubilc board meeting today - Thursday, April 19, 2012.

The UMC Board meeting was held at the new Tulane Cancer Research Center, a beautiful new facility designed by RMJM, the same architectural firm involved with the study that proved that the existing Charity Hospital building could be retrofited with UMC's brand new facility for half the cost of the building currently going up in lower mid-city.

They might want to keep that in mind in this new era of LSU's budget and staff cuts, the entire lopping off of programs, and the fact that the board -- as of today - have not acquired the added 200 million they need to complete the Ambulatory Care Building or the second parking garage.  That money was to come from from the LSU Physicians Foundation and FEMA reimbursements for the contents of Charity Hospital.  The UMC board have only spent approximately 132 million dollars of their 900 million dollar budget.  At, we believe that it is never too late to do the right thing.  

If this weren't enough, additionally, the UMC Board do not have a strategic plan that shows how the board will fund and operate the new replacement hospital.  In the presentation given to the board by Julie Catellier, director, it was noted that while construction of the new VA hospital will cost just under 1 billion dollars, activation of their new facility will cost 707 million dollars - bringing the total cost to 1.6 billion dollars.  This announcement drew gasps from some of those in the room - and so it should.  Kaufman Hall and Associates projected in a previous meeting last year that activation of the new UMC facility will cost at least between 100 and 170 million dollars.  This should give representative Fannin, Chair of the Legistative Joint Budget Committee, heartburn. 

Most interesting however, was the answer given by Ms. Catellie to a question posed by Byron Harrell from the UMC Board steering committee. He asked what she saw as the differences between the two hospitals.  In her response she said that the VA offers full continuum of care - [under income requirements, returning soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan enter into a 5 year period of care] and that, while LSU does not have a long term care mission, the VA will share with LSU on their strengths.  IE: trauma, obstetrics, and prisoner care.


Do administrators of the new VA hospital know something that we don't?

Or... did representatives of LSU advising the VA - as they pound in pilings - forget to inform VA administrators that LSU has cut their obstetrics program?  Their Veterans will have to cross town to get care at Touro and Tulane's Lakeside facility in Metairie - defeating the purpose of having the hospitals built side by side with students and patients not having to leave the campus.

The VA will have a beautiful new hospital at it's approximate completion of the end of 2015, and it will certainly be easy to spot across the vast wasteland that once was a thriving historic neighborhood in Lower MidCity.  


 This is going to be a great Discussion!

Below is the information on the hospital discussion at the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic next Saturday. If you mention that you are with either non-profit, Smart Growth or FHL, admission is free. Please help spread the word.

2:00 pm   Saturday, March 3, 2012   Weinmann Hall, Rm 202  - Tulane University


The decision on whether and how to rebuild Charity and the Veterans Affairs Hospitals in New Orleans post-Katrina raised many complex issues and challenges. Local experts and citizen advocates will examine failures in the public process, alternatives that were available, fiscal responsibility, the impacts to the environment, community, historic neighborhoods, social justice, and healthcare  - and the lessons learned going forward.

Mary Howell, Civil Rights Attorney; Sandra Stokes, Director at Large, Foundation for Historical Louisiana; Bill Borah, Land Use Attorney, President, Smart Growth for Louisiana; Jacques Morial, Public Policy Specialist

Hope to see you there!

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