Why are several key figures saying that rebuilding a healthcare facility inside the existing Charity Hospital is "off the table"?
It's bunk. Charity is definitely not off the table. If anything, going back into Charity is now more likely than it has been for several years. Why? Because state and federal officials - though clearly not Mayor Landrieu - finally see that Fred Cerise's"self-supporting" UMC as proposed is entirely unsustainable and will saddle taxpayers with debt and subsidy costs for decades. The mirage of inevitable "progress" in the Lower Mid-City site is fading. And the Mayor knows it. That's why he's holding a press conference on the UMC AND in support of the biomedical district - code for BioDistrict New Orleans/GNOBEDD - at 3 p.m. today at City Hall.
The Mayor is also probably getting really nervous because the continued push for the New Orleans East hospital means that the bed count in the metro region will only increase, further reducing the overall need for hospital beds. Listen to this excellent interview with State Treasurer John Kennedy on WWL with Garland Robinette.
He makes the Mayor's prouncement yesterday that any talk of going back into Charity is "bad"...look rather ridiculous and out of touch. There's no reason it's off the table other than the Mayor's declaration that it is so. Governor Jindal and other attendees at the Monday meeting in the state capitol indicated that all options need to be reviewed, that Kaufman-Hall should study all possible options.
But then you have the head of the UMC Board, Bobby Yarborough, saying Tuesday that going back into Charity is off the table.
Treasurer Kennedy has it right: all options MUST be on the table right now if we're going to avoid a boondoggle. That means the Kennedy/Vitter/Tucker plan and the FHL Charity plan, along with any other plans.
Here are the details on the press conference at City Hall today - go and tell the Mayor that Charity Hospital is not off the table.