The UMC Board sent out a notice and agenda that they will be meeting at 1:00PM - Thursday, March 1, 2012 at the lnterim LSU Public Hospital - 2021 Perdido Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana in Room 101/102
On the agenda [attached] is the following item:
1.Approval of amendment to the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the Division of Administration.
There is a CEA with the Division of Administration? Who knew? What else has this public entity been doing for the last 4 months out of the public eye?
There are many questions.
For instance - to make up the lack of the 1.1B dollars to construct the new hospital:
Did Facility Planning and Control procure the FEMA dollars that we were assured were in the bag for the contents of Charity Hospital?
Did the UMC board enter into a contractual agreement with the LSU Physicians Foundation guaranteeing the 132M dollars for the ambulatory care center and a parking garage?
Why were transmission towers - moved to the perimeter of the UMC site - placed above ground when they were supposed to be buried which would have made the State-Of-The-Art Hospital we were promised, and that we deserve, aesthetically pleasing?
Why were we told that the purpose for the new UMC academic medical center was to build a medical city within the city so that students would not have to leave the campus to attend to their respective programs? Now they are outsourcing programs and jobs. What was the purpose of taking down a neighborhood to centralize a campus? Now if a student is to learn the basics of delivering a baby, it won’t be at the UMC. Are they outsourcing students with those programs too?
Why did Facility Planning and Control ask for a capital outlay change order at the February 9, 2012 Legislative Joint Budget Committee Hearing that would net the UMC an additional 1.5M dollars for asbestos removal from the windows of the Palace Hotel. Didn't the UMC promise the State that the business plan they presented last September would guarantee they would never have to knock on the Joint Budget Committee's door for more money?
What does the State want with Nanny Goat Park - a triangular parcel (known as Tulane Place, Nanny Goat Park, and/or Billy Goat Park) in the 1st M.D., bounded by Tulane Avenue and Banks, S. Galvez , and S. Johnson Streets. Don't they have enough vacant Green Space already?
Hopefully, these questions and many more will be answered on Thursday. Anyone may make a public comment. According to UMC Board rules:
Public comments may be made (1) when they relate to a matter on the agenda; and (2) when individuals desiring to make public comments have registered at least one-half hour prior to the meeting. The comment period is limited to one-half hour; 3 minutes per speaker. Written comment may also be submitted at any time.
The UMC Board were in Baton Rouge on Friday, September 16th to present a business plan developed by Verite consultants [atttached] - and overseen by Kaufman Hall and Associates - to the Joint Budget Committee.
"Sandra Stokes, board member of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana put it, “Abracadabra- a miracle! Same project for much less money. It’s magic!”"
The new plan calls for a 1.09 Billion dollar plan requiring no additional funding from the state for construction money needed to build the UMC Academic Medical Center. Previously, the design plan called for 1.2 billion dollars. That plan required 100 million dollars in state subsidy funding and additional 400 million dollars in private bond money after the HUD application for federal backed mortgage financing was recalled.
You may recall that Kaufman Hall - the well-respected financial consulting firm specializing in health care - had presented a financial report to the Board back in June that showed the proposed Hospital would not cash flow and was unsustainable due to failure by the board to show how they would make up 400 million dollars in money for construction of the 1.2 billion dollar design, and the failure by the board to demonstrate a business plan to show operating costs and how the proposed hospital would cash flow.
That report attracted protest by some of Louisiana's top legislators who came up with an alternative plan. Speaker Jim Tucker, State Treasurer John Kennedy and Senator Vitter proposed reusing the existing Charity Hospital building for a smaller hospital, make use of a Jefferson Parish hospital as well as buying a share of Tulane University's New Orleans Hospital. The three combined would comprise the University Medical Center, would come in at at least 400 million dollars cheaper and provide more existing beds.
The Verite report also made claim to the fact that they had considered reusing Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital. If they considered it's reuse it appears that they did not consider the retrofit. The Foundation For Historical Louisiana were never contacted about the RMJM Hillier study that proves retrofitting the Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital is possible. FHL conducted the $600 000 dollar feasibility study that was executed by RMJM Hillier Architects – the same firm that built the cancer treatment center and whose reputation is world class in building health-care related facilities. If the Board had really given it a fair shake, you would think that they would have contacted the people that did that study.
There are numerous holes in the Verite business plan that raise doubts about the success of the new hospital and whether or not it will cash flow. Disturbingly, no mention was made that if it doesn't, more likely than not tax payers will be on the hook to fork over bail out money to keep the facility alive.
State Treasurer John Kennedy was in Baton Rouge on Friday to express his concerns. You can watch his testimony beginning at about 1:09:30.
Some outstanding issues are:
How will the UMC board repay the Louisiana Physicians Foundation for the approximately $130 million dollars that they say they will put up to fund a new clinical building in the now 1.09 Billion dollar design?
No one from The LSU Physicians Foundation was there to comment. However, Dr. Fred Cerise - LSU System Vice President for Health Affairs and Medical Education - assured the committee that he has commitments of about 130 million dollars for an ambulatory care building and a parking deck.
Where will the money come from for working capital?
Byron Harrell from the UMC Board steering committee, that studied the business plan, stated that he did not foresee a problem with obtaining a line of credit seeing as successful billion dollar projects that are firmly in the ground are not likely to be turned away. He said that the steering committee did not look at that issue too deeply claiming that they will seek a line of credit when the time comes.
How will Charity Hospitals be funded when the federal Disproportionate Share [DSH] money runs out after the federal health care bill comes into effect in 2014? The State Treasurer pointed out that the Charity Hospitals around the state cannot cash flow without federal DSH money and that the UMC Board's request to the state for up to 60 million dollars - as opposed to the previous amount of 100 million dollars - in general fund dollars by 2020 may significantly increase if the state loses it's DSH money. This will force the Hospital to rely increasingly on a privately insured population.
What about the saturation of the bed market? Will this drive up competition between area hospitals?
The Treasurer once again stated his concern that the national average for beds per 1000 people is 2.7. A 424 bed hospital along with new hospitals in New Orleans East and Chalmette will drive up bed count in Louisiana to 3 beds per 1000 people.
The UMC Board attempted to quell concerns with the argument that competition will not increase as the UMCMC are looking at finding niche patients that will be determined by programs offered and cultural shifts.
Senator Morrell, sitting in for Senator Jackson, emphasized that the issue today is jobs. That argument is a red herring. Jobs will come no matter where the hospital is built.
Other concerns that were brought up at the meeting were about the costs and success of repatriating patients and doctors to the new hospital. Interestingly one advocate for retrofitting the Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital mentioned that her experience in outreach shows that if the doors of Charity opened tomorrow, there would be no need to spend any dollars on repatriation. The hospital would flood with doctors and patients alike, regardless of whether or not it is no longer a fully public hospital. Advocate's comments begin at about 2:00:00.
LSU representatives insist that the hospital will continue to operate as a public hospital and be operated with public dollars. It's too bad the public never had a seat at the table and had very little say in the decision making process.
So what will become of the Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital? There were assurances after the meeting from at least one senator who stated there will be a public process for people to give input. Hmmmmmmm.....
The Jacobs Engineering Charity Hospital Market Study has been released. Is the time for public comment over?
In the words of one official - "this is not a sprint, it's a marathon."
Yesterday, we heard the much ballyhooed business plan that was meant to somehow show that the proposed UMC academic medical center will cash flow and will be sustainable into the long term.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. It was disappointing to hear the study that is meant to be the panacea to our lack of healthcare and the replacement for The Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital.
The business plan that was presented by Verite Consultants leaves many holes and uncertainties that will ultimately jump out at consumers and taxpayers like the potholes lining our streets. For instance; not in the report, but mentioned by Verite yesterday, is the fact that up to 170 million dollars will be necessary for working capital.
Notably, Kaufman Hall - the firm hired by the UMC board to advise them on the Verite plan – did not put their name on the business plan. A strategic study will come later on from both firms after the Joint Budget Committee Hearing September 16th to approve extraordinary funds necessary to begin construction on an already demolished lower Mid-City.
How can the Joint Budget Committee make any kind of intelligent decision on the business plan before hearing a strategic analysis? Sandra Stokes of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana points out that - "that is truly putting the cart before the horse”. Most of the dollars invested in the new hospital ARE public dollars. It is unfair to the taxpaying public to be so disrespected.
Ms. Stokes also testified to the fact that she was never contacted by Verite, Kaufman Hall, or the UMC Board about the $600,000 RMJM Hillier feasibility study that the Foundation for Historical Louisiana funded to meet the States's request that they study the best adaptive reuse for Charity Hospital. That study proves that the new hospital can be retrofitted in this existing building and meet all the programmatic needs of the academic medical center complex.
The governor's directive to the UMC board to consider all alternatives was given lip-speak but was obviously ignored. The governor expressly stated in his letter the the UMC board June 13th, 2011:
“In considering all options to produce a business plan that will support a first rate academic medical center, the plan you create should consider options even beyond those in existing studies.”
The plan revealed yesterday calls for a 1.09 Billion dollar 424 bed hospital without any alteration to the previous design. The reduction in costs were attributed to cheaper prices for steel and construction and the LSU Physicians Foundation stepping in to take on at least $100 million to build a clinic building that will be leased back to the UMC.
At a time when LSU is facing millions of dollars of funding shortfalls and program cutbacks around the state, why would they take on this debt load when a Charity Hospital retrofit is already fully affordable with millions left over for the best medical equipment and promotional resources to repatriate doctors and patients to the hospital?
Amongst a litany of risks to the success of the proposed hospital highlighted by Kaufman Hall are:
Repatriation of patients and doctors.
The Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to insure all citizens in 2014.
The federal “Super Committee” decisions to reduce federal debt as it pertains to healthcare. Competition from other area hospitals.
State General Fund game changes.
DHH community care networks.
SaveCharityHospital has consistently pointed out that according to State Treasurer John Kennedy, a 424 bed hospital will saturate the bed market in the state – putting us at 3 beds per 100 people - well over the national average. This will complicate New Orleans East from getting their own FULL hospital back on-line despite assurances by Mayor Landrieu and others.
It's difficult to believe that the state went ahead and demolished an historic neighborhood before securing the money to construct and operate a hospital and before producing and voting on a business plan that only appeared the first time yesterday. Yet we are to believe the State and local officials have our best interests in mind.
Tell that to displaced residents and business owners of lower Mid-City where one building, McDonough 11 school, stands alone, awaiting her fate. The school is a monument to the devastation that was wreaked upon 618 businesses and residents in the name of imminent domain. 120 property owners sued the state for unjust expropriation. Court dates are pending and SaveCharity Hospital.com will be there.
You’ll recall that Governor Bobby Jindal told the UMC Board to consider “all options” when it looked at making the best decision for reconstituting a medical facility.
Here’s the bottom line: if the presentation on Thursday does not show that Vérité actually considered the Charity retrofit option in full, then the UMC Board did not heed the Governor’s order. And if the Governor suddenly says he never meant for Charity to be included, somehow, in “all options,” then it was all a lie to begin with.
The Governor suddenly appeared on television recently, stating that the proposed UMC Hospital will be built for $900 million dollars - $300 million less than the $1.2 billion we were told was absolutely necessary all along. As usual, no supporting evidence was noted in his vacuous statement. We are simply supposed to trust his assurances that this is a done deal.....again. We are reminded of similar assurances by the Governor that the UMC Hospital had to be built in it's proposed location because of synergy between the VA and UMC hospitals. An article written just two weeks ago finally put that falsehood to rest.
The Governor is also saying that the facility will not require any debt and would not sacrifice services or technology. We’re eager to hear how this is possible – because it conflicts with the actions and rhetoric of the state that we’ve seen for years.
Once again, it seems the state is dealing in continued, slippery rationalizations rather than dealing with facts.
Meanwhile, the city’s healthcare is being held hostage by the state’s needless games. Charity Hospital could have been rebuilt by now. But greed got in the way – and is still choking off common sense on this issue.
If the Charity option has not been given a full and thorough consideration by the UMC Board, then the people of Louisiana and New Orleans still have not been given their due. We must demand that all options are considered – to accept anything less would be a mistake we will have to live with for decades.
The Board has a duty to do what is best for the citizens of the state. Clinging to one option – LSU’s option – is shady and short-sighted.
Sign the petition. Call upon the UMC Board, the Governor, Commissioner Rainwater and LA State Senators and Representatives to hold them accountable. Demand that all options, including Charity, must be in the mix if the process is going to be fair.
That’s the question we’ve been asking lately because it appears that the UMC Board still won’t consider retrofitting Rev. Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital as one of the alternatives to the current, unsustainable, destructive proposal for the University Medical Center.
Jerry Jones with the state’s Office of Facility Planning and Control has openly suggested that the state/UMC construct “shell buildings” in the UMC Footprint.So not only will the site, even in the best of all possible worlds, contain massive expanses of vacant land for years, the buildings that are actually constructed (if any are) will contain large vacant sections.
It’s nearly six years after Katrina, and we still don’t have Charity - or full healthcare services more generally - back online.If the state had opted for the renovation of Charity into a modern facility, the hospital would likely have been completed by now, according to the RMJM Hillier plan.
What is the UMC so afraid of in the end?Are they afraid that the consultants would tell them the Charity option is the most viable if it were included as part of a full-blown study?
Why is it sill appropriate to make this push?Because the UMC Board STILL does not have adequate financing in place to build the first phase – just the first phase, mind you – of the proposed UMC hospital.There is still no business plan in place as well – even if the site is cleared, building on it for the sake of avoiding embarrassment doesn’t eliminate the larger problem: the UMC as proposed is unsustainable.It will not cashflow.
The Board's next meeting, always subject to change, is set for September 8. There's a real opportunity to change the course of this project before that date - if you make your voice heard.
That was the answer given by Louisiana State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy to a question raised by an audience member at a video-taped presentation given on July 26th regarding the fiscal realities of the proposed UMC Academic Medical Center. The question was about what Charity Hospital supporters can do to convince State officials to reuse the existing Reverend Avery C. Alexander Hospital to house the new downtown hospital - one we can afford, and one that will be sustainable for years to come.
The Treasurer emphasized that our calls, emails and faxes DO make a difference and that, though every legislator may not reply, every call is heard and every fax and email are read.
With the previous releases of two studies by both Verite and Kaufman Hall - well respected financial consulting firms - confirming that the proposed plan for the new University Medical Center (UMC) in New Orleans is not feasible, Governor Jindal asked the UMC Board to produce a business plan and consider all options for the best and most affordable plan for the new UMC Academic Medical Center. [Letter attached] - We hope to take the Governor at his word and that the UMC Board will truly pursue ALL OPTIONS, including asking it's financial analysts - Verite and Kaufman Hall - to study the use of the existing Charity Hospital building as one of those options.
The UMC Board has, rather suspiciously, cancelled its monthly meeting scheduled for tomorrow, August 4, 2011.
While that's not at all surprising, it is unfortunate because we planned to attend and provide public comment urging the Board to require its consultants to consider fully the Charity Hospital option. We also wanted to learn how the business plan - that still doesn't exist after about, oh, you know, about three years - is coming along.
The deadline for presenting the plan to Joint Budget is September 16, but a recent Times-Picayune story indicates that many players involved seem to think it will take longer than that. So the business plan and, by extension, the proposed hospital...could take even longer to materialize. Shocking. We urge Rep. Fannin to call Facilities and Planning Control, as well as the UMC Board, in on the carpet if no business plan exists by the deadline. No extensions. There have been far too many "extensions" of this irresponsible boondoggle of a project already.
The next UMC Board meeting is scheduled for September 1. Until then, it's a mystery as to whether or not the Charity Hospital building is being considered as part of the business plan. We tend to doubt that it is - given the totally incongruent media comments of UMC Board Chair Yarborough, indicating that he would not look at all options despite the Governor's directive.
We demand that the UMC Board require its consultants to consider all options for a better UMC project - including a retrofit of the existing Charity Hospital building.
SaveCharityHospital.com, along with 26 other community organizations, sponsored a great event on Tuesday evening that featured brief remarks by State Treasurer John Kennedy and a great deal of input and engagement from citizens.
Here's one of the key things to keep in mind: despite Governor Bobby Jindal telling the UMC Board weeks ago to look at and consider all options for making a more sustainable UMC that will cash flow, the state has continued to destroy its way forward in the UMC Footprint.
LSU and the state were out in Kenner yesterday with their dog and pony show, pitching the supposed economic lucre that will flow from the UMC project, even though the project STILL HAS NO BUSINESS PLAN! IT STILL DOES NOT HAVE ADEQUATE FINANCING! No matter how much proponents try to distract everyone from the underlying realities, it's not possible to simply imagine and desire a hospital into being.
Fortunately, Treasurer Kennedy, voice of reason that he is, presented some of these stark realities for all gathered on Tuesday evening. And people asked some great, provocative questions, too.
Like...whether the transfer of scores of expropriated properties in the UMC Footprint to the UMC Board, a private non-profit corporation, is even legal under the state's constitution. Like...whether anyone who lives in the BioDistrict even know that it exists, much less that they live within its bounds (or that it's intimately connected to the LSU/VA project). Like...what LSU and state leaders told Kennedy when he asked why they shuttered Charity after Katrina (Kennedy answered that they told him they wouldn't get their new hospital if the building reopened).
What are people supposed to do to influence the process for the better? In his words, WRITE EMAIL CALL your public officials. And keep doing it over and over again.
Kennedy also made it clear that constructing a too-large 424-bed UMC, as proposed, will flood the local market for beds to the extent that it will hurt the viability of the promised Methodist hospital in The East here in the New Orleans metro region.
Strangely, Kennedy was very non-committal on the idea of going back into Charity. While he repeatedly mentioned the prospect of a 250-bed facility reconstituted in the existing Charity shell, he kept saying that he didn't know if Charity could be renovated and made into a modern facility. IT CAN! We know that it can because a major study has been done that shows it can be done.
Kennedy is right to continue noting that the state and UMC Board, in cahoots with LSU, have suppressed talk of any other option than the one option put forward. And that's extremely unhealthy. So Kennedy is at least forcefully supportive of making the UMC Board consider the idea in full - something it has refused to do to this point.
Instead, destruction continues in the UMC Footprint. And one has to wonder whether all the sound and fury about considering other plans is just that - sound and fury signifying nothing. When the state's base and reprehensible actions are actually assessed, you see that the story hasn't much changed. Jerry Jones says he's going to keep destroying until someone makes him stop. The fix is in.
But we're not giving up. Contact the members of the UMC Board and tell them to stop the destruction in the UMC Footprint until the business plan is in place, until the studies are done. Strangely, the UMC Board has cancelled its next regularly scheduled meeting set for Aug. 4...hmmm...how convenient...just as public scrutiny picks up once again.
Contact UMC Board Chairman Bobby Yarborough and tell him the destruction of the UMC site needs to stop until a business plan and full financing is in place:
This is your chance, as a member of the public, to sound off on the proposed UMC hospital. Bring your suggestions, your questions, and make sure you voice is heard. Call for the state to do the right thing - and reopen Charity Hospital as a brand new facility within the shell of the existing and historic Charity Hospital building.
Treasurer Kennedy has consistently questioned the wisdom, in a fiscal sense, of building a new medical center in Lower Mid-City. And now, more than ever, we need a dose of this realistic viewpoint before the state commits itself to a crippling mistake.
We encourage folks in New Orleans East who are concerned about Methodist Hospital to attend and find out how the unnecessary expenditures on the UMC affect the likelihood of financing for a hospital in the East.
We encourage anyone concerned about the risk of a true fiscal boondoggle to attend. Despite all the talk about the project moving forward, there are some very real risks that have not been addressed, specifically on the financing and operation costs.
We urge anyone concerned about mental healthcare facilities in New Orleans to attend as well. You'll recall that a study by Blitch Knevel Architects, on behalf of the State of Louisiana, said that part of Charity could be renovated to provide the area with a stand-alone mental healthcare facility. The state's own study says this.
Finally, we urge any community members to attend who are concerned about the precedent set by the disastrous treatment of the Lower Mid-City neighborhood by the city, state, and federal government. New Orleans neighborhoods should not stand for the utter disregard, disrespect, and outright hostility toward their residents. And the state and city governments, should not bowl over and hang their own residents out to dry when they start to see dollar signs before their eyes.
Come on out on Tuesday night. The current UMC push jeopardizes the return of a hospital to New Orleans because it is so irresponsible. We are strongly in support of the event on Tuesday night because we view it as a way to help ensure the success of a world class institution that is sustainable and right for the city and the state. For this to happen, all options and alternatives must be considered, including the Charity Hospital option.