Janet's blog

Plans Plans Plans.... “LSU Needs Some Time To Develop A Plan".‏

The title quote is taken from an article in The Advocate - July 24, 2012.
 

Regarding a Joint Legislative Committee hearing on the Budget, it was reported in The Advocate that Bruce Greenstein [State Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary] said:
“LSU needs some time to develop a plan. I ask that you wait for a plan before you start asking questions like that,”.  He was addressing concerns by State Sen. Ronnie Johns' [R-Sulphur] that LSU has not produced modernization plans to mitigate the recent State and Federal medicaid cuts that will leave many without healthcare and will drive uninsured patients to seek emergency care at private hospitals.

In another quote from the same article, Paul Rainwater [Commissioner of Administration, the chief financial advisor to the Governor and chief administrative officer for the state] said: 
“We are going to continue what we are doing,” Rainwater replied. “We believe what we have done is put together a prudent plan.”

Here's another quote regarding statements made by Robert "Bobby" Yarborough - [Chairman of the University Medical Center Management Corporation Board - UMCMC] -  from a joint meeting of the House’s Appropriations and Health and Welfare committees addressing the same cuts.  The quote is taken from a Times Picayune Editorial - July 22, 2012: 
"Legislators could find themselves waiting a while for an answer.
Yarborough said it was likely the board would not have a plan to present until the end of August."

"Until the end of August" - no doubt.  The lack of plans is perhaps the reason behind the UMCMC Board cancelling their monthly public board meeting two months in a row.  [The notice of cancellation for the July UMC Board meeting went out on June 26].

So, according to Paul Rainwater the State has a Plan; but the Chairmam of the UMCMC Board says they are working on it; and the health secretary says LSU needs to develop a plan.
Uh oh.

All the parties mentioned have a dismal record on delivering plans.

Take the UMCMC Board for instance.  Readers of SaveCharityHospital.com will recall that the UMCMC board - that is responsible for administering the new UMC hospital - despite orders from the Governor last fall to deliver a business plan before approval for construction could be granted by the joint budget committee, has failed to come up with the strategic part of the business outline on how to fund and operate the new Hospital. Yet approval of construction was granted anyway. 

Members of the Joint Budget Committee should be kicking themselves right now for not insisting on a strategic plan demonstrating how the successor hospital for Big Charity would cash flow without medicaid funding.  Finacial advisors had advised the UMCMC Board, under risk factors to be considered [Pages 36 and 37] - in what is known as their "business plan" - that this might be an option they would have to consider.

State Treasurer John Kennedy warned legislators at that fall meeting about the unsustainable costs of building such a large replacement hospital for Charity.  At that meeting he offered an alternative plan.
What! You mean someone had an actual plan to turn what our readers know as the Taj-Ma-Hospital into Taj-Ma-Possible?  The answer is yes and, once again, Treasurer Kennedy offers a 14 point fix to the medicaid crisis that includes:

6. Reduce the size of the new $1.1 billion Charity Hospital currently being built in New Orleans. According to its own business plan, the hospital, at 424 beds, won't cash flow now that we are reducing the size of the Medicaid program and the Governor has decided not to participate in the Medicaid portion of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). If we overbuild in New Orleans, there will not be enough money left to deliver health care to the poor and uninsured in the rest of the state.

Sounds like a much better idea than closing the teaching hospital.  The idea has been floated, yet the pilings continue to be pounded into the ground in the area of lower MidCity which, until late last year, was an historic neighborhood.

It was stated in the Times Picayune article referenced above:
During questioning by Rep. Edward James, D-Baton Rouge, LSU Board of Supervisors Chairman-elect Robert Yarborough said that while closures were not the board’s first choice for dealing with the cuts, they remain a possibility. “We’re looking at all options and it depends on how successful the other options are,” Yarborough said. “It’s an option if some of the other options don’t work out like we hope them to.”

Lower Mid-City was demolished by LSU, State leaders and a fully compliant City Council under eminent domain laws that allow such destruction ONLY for uses that benefit the public.  Can the UMCMC close the public hospital and rid itself of the Charity system once and for all in favor of what might inevitably become a privately funded hospital?. The question needs to be asked:  Would such a move be legal?  It is beginning to look more and more like the demise of Lower Mid-City was indeed a land grab.

Hmmmm.  Maybe the State could reuse the existing Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital for half the money? 
Just a thought.......

UMC Board to meet Thursday, April 12 2012

The UMC Board are set to hold their monthly meeting tomorrow at 1PM.  

On the agenda is a presentation by the VA hospital.

Perhaps we will finally learn how construction on the UMC Hospital got so far out ahead of Construction on the VA.

At the last meeting,  Kaufman Hall and Associates gave a presentation on the status and feasibility of Academic Medical Centers.  As AMCs no longer generate enough revenue to sustain themselves, it was revealed that AMCs are partnering with otherwise unsuspecting organizations to take unfeasible programs off their hands.  Organizations such as insurance companies and for profit clinics operated by the Catholic Church.

Dr. Bronson Lutz, former city health director and medical columnist for New Orleans magazine had some VERY interesting comments to make about the looming disaster facing the new UMC Academic Medical Center on WYES Informed Sources last week. Unlike many of the talking heads that parrot information, Dr. Lutz really does seem to be informed and to be able to reason.

He pointed out that doctors are not being reimbursed by the insurance companies that scooped up state government dollars resulting from Governor Jindal's privatization of the medicaid system.  [The Charity Hospital system is heavily reliant on these dollars as the new hospital struggles to build a hospital catering to privately insured patients.]

Responding to future watch reporter Dawn Ostrom's claim that the new 424 bed hospital will open in the spring of 2015, Dr. Lutz said - "why do you think every doctor I know in town rolls their eyes whenever this project is mentioned?"  Time note is 13:33.

A few of the reasons that savecharityhospital.com has also pointed out numerous times are:

  • Over-saturation of patient beds
  • LSU's yearly cuts to their budget for the medical school
  • Difficulty in repatriating doctors and patients 
  • Cultural of care barriers to making the new hospital a destination hospital to compete with hospitals such as M.D. Anderson in Houston, TX
  • Birmingham's medical center was successful because it began in a centralized area and grew outward as necessary rather than tearing down a whole city and building a Taj-Ma-Hal.

The existing Charity Hospital building and the Historic Downtown Medical District is New Orleans' centralized area that LSU needs to build off of.  It was and still is the most cost effective solution. 

It is refreshing to see that SaveCharityHospital.com is now not alone in reporting the facts as they are - not as some would have them to be. 

 

NOTE: Thursday's meeting will be held in a NEW LOCATION.

Louisiana Cancer Research Center, 1700 Tulane Avenue, First Floor Conference Room.
Notice and Agenda Attached.
Rules for public comment are as follows:

 

"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."

 

 

LSU's programmatic requirements shrink as it seeks to grab more land‏

Last week, a little noticed item appeared on the March 13, 2012 City Planning Commission agenda. Despite program and staff cutbacks at LSU, as well as severe budget cuts handed down to LSU by the Governor, it would appear that the new UMC Academic Medical Center's thirst for land has not been quenched.

After already demolishing an entire historic neighborhood to build a skeleton of a hospital, the State now want to the City to give up Pershing Place: A park also known colloquially as Nanny Goat Park, Billy Goat Park and Dough Boy Park, that sits at the edge of the hospital's North Western boundary. The State's reasons for the acquisition are to create an access point to the new hospital and erect a sign.

The original hospital design never included this triangular park at Tulane Ave and S. Galvez that is home to a Statue commemorating WWI soldiers. Those who were involved in the exhaustive *section 106* process at the very beginning of design discussions state that sign locations were agreed upon - as well as design features for the new hospital - and the bounding streets were determined.

At no time were the parties involved in that process ever made aware of any intention by LSU to acquire Pershing Place. Indeed, at the monthly UMC Board meeting March 1, the first meeting not canceled in four months, the board were given an update by the State of Louisiana Division of Administration Facility Planning and Control. The diagram on page 4 of the power point presentation depicting the design for the new hospital does not reflect the design given to City Planning Commissioners on March 13th, 2012 regarding acquisition of the park. The design presented to CPC commissioners include buildings - (for future patient towers) - never before seen by anyone that has been closely following the "Taj-Ma-Hospital' project.

Regarding the Monument, it appears that either the City or the State agreed to give the Statue to the VA hospital who, at a community meeting last month indicated that they would gladly take it. Who made the decision to give away public property to a private hospital before engaging the public in that decision? The VA hospital will be a secured site and would prevent the general public access to the Statue. At the City Planning Commission hearing March 13th, the State wisely decided to back off of that decision given vehement opposition from the MidCity Neighborhood Organization and the general public.

If things weren't strange enough, Commissioners voted 4 to 3 in favor of the State. However, a 4 to 3 vote meant "no legal majority" - preventing the item from moving forward to City Council for approval of sale.

In one of the most bizarre episodes administrators of this website have ever witnessed, after somehow realizing - (or being told) - that a "no legal majority" would be a defeat for the state, commissioners interrupted the meeting to go back to the item for a reconsideration of the vote.

Commissioner Volz pointed out that a reconsideration is not allowed. That began a series of complex machinations that would finally end with Commissioner Brown taking over the gavel from commission Chairman Craig Mitchell in order to re-vote on the item. The second vote favored sale of the park to the state with a 5 to 2 vote. Commission Chairman Mitchell changed his vote from no to yes saying that he did not want to stand in the way of progress.

CPC March 13 meeting and vote on Nanny Goat Park.
http://cityofno.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1153
State presentation and comments at :1:05:00
Vote at: 1:57:28 and parlimentary wrangling and re-vote at: 2:10:33

The item now moves to City Council for approval. The public should be outraged that they are obviously being shut out of any decision regarding our city property!

*The Federal government mandates that when there are changes to our landscape that effect Historic Properties, there must be meetings with preservation groups to preserve the historic integrity of those properties.

Editorial boards take notice: Charity a State issue with National consequences

Well isn't this interesting...

As we enter a week of closed-door hearings that will decide how much money the State will receive from FEMA for hurricane-related damage done to Charity Hospital, two surprising editorials are condemning the lack of transparency and highlighting the far-reaching consequences of this flawed process.

Times-Picayune editorial, entitled "Pull the curtain on Charity Hospital hearings" decries the lack of transparency in the binding arbitration process, stating "New Orleanians and taxpayers across the nation are being kept out " of the decision-making process.

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Charity Hearing Behind Closed Doors

  In a process that continues to be marked by its lack of transparency and public participation, the dispute over how much FEMA owes Louisiana for damage done to Charity Hospital during Hurricane Katrina will go to binding arbitration on Monday, before a completely secret closed-door panel.

 A front-page Times-Picayune story reports that the three-judge arbitration panel will have a week-long hearing and then have 60 days or more to make their binding decision.

In a dispute that has yet to see a public hearing of any kind, it is outrageous that this hearing be conducted in secret.

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New Radio Ad Proposes Compromise to LSU/VA Controversy

Let’s build a hospital now.  Let’s put our veterans first.

That’s the message of a new ad running this week on New Orleans radio stations.  As the State and LSU await a decision on how much money FEMA will chip in for their poorly-financed medical complex, the radio ad supports a compromise solution to the impasse over building the badly needed new hospitals in New Orleans.

It recommends building the hospital for the Department of Veterans Affairs – which has the money to build now – on the site planned for LSU’s teaching hospital.

The ad, sponsored by Smart Growth for Louisiana, is an attempt to speed construction of the first of the two hospitals needed to drive the jobs-producing development of a biomedical economy for New Orleans:  Build the VA hospital now on the site that‘s available and not affected by lawsuit delays.

You can hear the audio of the radio ad here:

 

 

It has been reported here and elsewhere how the VA has been consistently slighted in this process. They were offered the worst land for their hospital – it is the lowest ground and most densely populated. LSU promised millions of dollars in savings with "shared services" that failed to materialize. The Mayor's alleged violation of the city charter in appropriating the land, as well alleged violations of NEPA have attracted strong lawsuits that will continue to plague the site.

Yet, the proposed VA hospital has received much of its financing. As LSU dawdles with securing the necessary financing for their medical complex, veterans care continues to suffer. We agree with this new radio spot: Move aside LSU. Let's start building a hospital and put our veterans first.

 

The full text of the radio spot is below:

 

“You’ve probably heard the controversy about the closing of Charity Hospital, and how LSU wants to expropriate and bulldoze 70 acres of the Mid-City neighborhood.  Right now, it’s bogged down in politics, lawsuits and lack of money.

“You know what?  It’s not just LSU that wants a new hospital.  So does the Department of Veterans Affairs.  And get this -- the proposed VA hospital is funded. 

“That’s not true for LSU. LSU’s hospital is hundreds of millions of dollars short -- and, it’s in the way of the VA.

“That’s because LSU wants to locate by North Claiborne Avenue, while pushing the VA farther into Mid-City, on a site tied up in lawsuits.  But if LSU would let the VA hospital go first, by North Claiborne, we could start that hospital now.

“So move over, LSU.  Let’s start building a hospital, and let’s put our veterans first.

“And by the way, voters, two-to-one, want LSU to put its new hospital inside a fully renovated Charity Hospital.

“Paid for by Smart Growth for Louisiana.”

 

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Celebrate Lower Mid-City at First Annual "Wally Fest"

Join us to celebrate "Wally Fest" and show your support of Lower Mid-City!

This Saturday, November 21st, from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Here's What:

  • Block party celebration on the 200 block of S. Tonti (between Palmyra and Cleveland)
  • Live music will feature the Franklin Avenue Underpass Jazz Band, Charmaine Neville, the Hot 8 Brass Band, Tom McDermott and Dr. Guitar
  • The Outerbanks Bar will be firing up the outdoor grill and serving drinks.

Here's Why:

As many of you know, Wally Thurman is an incredible Lower Mid-City resident and also a lead plaintiff on the lawsuit against Mayor Nagin for violating the City Charter. Wally was born in the front room of his Lower Mid-City home that has been in his family for generations.

Well, Wally's turning 80 year's old and to celebrate his life, and to show our support of Lower Mid-City we are throwing him a birthday party! Come out and show your support of Wally and his neighborhood.

See you there!
 

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See you there! City Planning Commission at City Hall! TODAY! May 28, 4PM!

If there's one lesson from our trip to Baton Rouge, it's this:

Sound planning, a commitment to returning healh care quickly and fiscal responsibility are values shared across Louisiana. Today, the Health and Welfare Committee showed themselves friends to all three.

Let's see if the New Orleans City Planning Commission is as tired of waiting for LSU as the Health and Welfare Commitee is. And as we are!

See you at City Hall!

May 28th

4:00 PM

 Council Chambers

City Hall

1300 Perdido St.

 

Don't miss out!

We did it! HB 780 passed unanimously out of committee!

Guess what?

We did it!

Thanks to your efforts, and the support of others across the state, the Health and Welfare Committee unanimously passed House Bill 780, which would require LSU to show that they could finance the construction of the new hospital complex before seizing land from residents and business owners of Lower Mid-City.

This is a huge win for the residents of Lower Mid-City, citizens of New Orleans in need of a hospital, and concerned taxpayers across the state.

Today, it was reaffirmed that common sense fiscal responsibility and pragmatic planning are valued across the State of Louisiana, regardless of party or region.

The bill will now pass out of the committee to be debated before the entire House of Representatives.

Testimony from concerned New Orleanians, including some home and business owners facing displacement in Lower Mid-City, proved invaluable. So too, was the unexpected testimony of State Treasurer John Kennedy.

LSU's Dr. Fred Cerise was certainly caught by surprise. And he was not a happy camper.

 

 

You're definitely going to want to keep reading... more video of Treasurer Kennedy after the jump.

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New Fact Sheet on Health Care added to Documents page

In our commitment to providing the most up-to-date facts about the Charity Hospital issue, we have just posted the first of our Fact Sheets to the Documents section of our website. The first fact sheet is on Health Care and why the current LSU/VA proposal would not serve the health care needs of New Orleans. You can download it by visiting our Documents page.

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