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.
|Jindal Letter to UMC board to study all options 6.13.11.pdf||76.81 KB|