Health Care

New Orleans is in the midst of a troubling public health crisis. Charity Hospital has historically served New Orleans' most vulnerable citizens and its continued closure further jeopardizes the city's uninsured population, stretches limited government services to the their breaking point, and puts unnecessary strain on the region's private hospitals and care providers. The current LSU/VA plan condemns the residents of New Orleans to years of inadequate medical resources while their proposed facility is built. Since Charity Hospital can be renovated at least four and a half years faster than the LSU/VA proposal for a new medical complex, the work of attracting top flight medical personnel to provide critical public health services can begin sooner by rebuilding Charity.

Below you will find a collection of articles pertaining to the preservation issue:

Governor Jindal doing damage control?

It was interesting to see Governor Jindal go on a press junket to boost spirits about the sagging LSU/VA medical center proposal in the face of growing public support for a more sustainable alternative that would build new hospitals sooner, for less money, and with a less destructive impact on residential neighborhoods.

For a plan that just months ago was dismissed as a 'done deal' by officials left, right, and center, Jindal's interview with Eric Paulson of WWLTV reiterating his commitment to the LSU/VA boondoggle stands in contrast to the growing realization that this development deal was half-baked to begin with and remains unrealistic today.

Just one example of that is Richard Webster's most recent article in New Orleans City Business.


The odds against Louisiana State University’s gleaming new downtown medical complex seem to be increasing.

First, the Federal Emergency Management Agency came up more than $300 million short of LSU’s request for reconstruction funding. Then state lawmakers tried to block the acquisition of property in lower Mid-City where plans call for the hospital to be built.

Finally, LSU rejected a proposal for a shared governing board with Tulane and Xavier universities that would limit LSU to four of the 11 seats.

On top of that, opponents of the Mid-City site have filed lawsuits to block construction, and time is ticking on a deadline to turn over city property for a Veterans Administration hospital planned next to the LSU facility.

Now the fate of the $1.2 billion medical complex, hailed as a surefire economic boon and the future of health care, appears to be permanently trapped in limbo four years after Hurricane Katrina. And no one can provide a definitive answer as to what will happen next.


Governor Jindal's attempt to reassure the public that construction on the LSU/VA would begin sometime in 2010 is of little substance given the last four years of timetable distortion designed to preclude substantive examination of more realistic alternative plans.

Voters looking for candidates who favor reopening Charity Hospital, poll finds

New poll numbers released today by Smart Growth Louisiana indicate the depth of public support for reopening Charity Hospital. Following up on last week's results which demonstrate 2 to 1 support for a plan to build a new facility inside historic Charity Hospital over the current LSU/VA medical center proposal, the new numbers show overwhelming favorability, 4 to 1, for hypothetical Mayoral candidates who support scrapping the LSU/VA in favor of the alternative plan. For African American voters, the preference is close to 6 to 1.

Survey respondents also expressed eye-opening support for the pro-transparency and resident participation initatives advocated by a coalition of now over 70 organizations, including an independent cost-benefit analysis of competing hospital plans (71%) and public hearings by City Council (83%). The failure of the city to hold public hearings in front of the City Planning Commission and City Council in accordance with the New Orleans Home Rule Charter before agreeing to cede Lower Mid-City for expropriation and the proposed medical complex development is now subject of a lawsuit.

The full press release with poll results from Smart Growth Louisiana is below the fold.


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Sign up! It's cooler than the Jonas Brothers!

Yesterday, we officially announced the arrival of our freshly-printed Save Charity Hospital yard signs and bumper stickers.



Your enthusiastic response has been incredible. And we're not just saying that -- it really has been overwhelming -- you should see our inbox!

The website "Happn.In" tracks Twitter trends in different cities and has found that the sign and sticker campaign is the number one topic in the city of New Orleans! We're even bigger than the robust online "cute kevin" topic, in which New Orleanians are discussing which Jonas Brother is hotter. That's an achievment we can all be proud of.

Can you help us pay it forward and spread the news even further?

Here's what you can do:

  • If you haven't already, Sign up to receive your FREE yard sign and bumper sticker.
  • Volunteer to help us deliver signs and stickers to supporters.
  • Forward this page to 5 friends and family members to sign up for their yard sign or bumper sticker.

Thanks so much for your support.

We'll see you soon!



FEMA Dispute Abritration Panel Announced

The Obama administration has just announced the creation of three-judge panels to arbitrate some of the ongoing reimbursement disputes between the state of Louisiana and FEMA, and the system is expected to be ready to hear cases by the end of the month, the AP has reported. applauds the establishment of these panels.

A decision about the damages incurred at Charity Hospital is one of the largest disputes expected to require mediation. State officials have based their plans to fund the proposed LSU/VA medical complex threatening Lower Mid-City with demolition on a $500 million FEMA settlement.

FEMA has offered only $150 million and have repeatedly asserted that state officials improperly claimed damages to the building that resulted from deferred maintenance and the failure to secure the property since it was shuttered, and not from Hurricane Katrina.

Several doctors and military personnel, including Lt. General Honore, have come forward to explain that Charity Hospital had been decontaminated in the weeks after the levees broke and was ready to serve patients when it was suddenly shuttered by state officials. obtained photos from September of 2005 that depict clean facilities. This evidence and the accounts of those that were there to take part in the cleanup of Charity Hospital directly undercut official attempts to claim that Charity is beyond 50% damaged, the threshold at which FEMA can reimburse for a complete replacement.

We here at are very enthusiastic about the creation of FEMA arbitration panels by President Obama. A final decision about the true condition of Charity Hospital may finally bury the ill-conceived LSU/VA medical center proposal once and for all so that public officials will finally begin working on a less destructive and less expensive alternative to quickly restore top-tier healthcare infrastructure to New Orleans.

"Where I took my first breath of life" - Musician and Community Leader Gregg Stafford

Gregg Stafford is the beloved New Orleans trumpet player, community leader and co-founder of the Black Men of Labor social aid and pleasure club. Here Mr. Stafford talks about the importance of Charity Hospital in his own life, and the life of his City of New Orleans. Charity is "where I took my first breath of life," he says. "We're trying to rebuild the city and a lot of people need Charity Hospital to reopen." See the full video here.


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Poll: Voters express strong support for rebuilding in Charity Hospital

Smart Growth Louisiana just released a poll they commissioned that clearly confirms what we at have maintained all along.

Overwhelmingly, New Orleans residents want to rebuild and reopen Charity Hospital.

By a clear two-to-one (60%-30%) margin, respondents indicated a clear preference for the plan to rebuild Charity over the proposal for Lower Mid-City LSU/VA medical complex. New Orleans voters also responded favorably to the prospect of an independent analysis of the competing plans, with 71% favoring outside evaluation and 20% opposing it. On whether City Council should hold public hearings on the hospital plan, respondents said yes by a 83%-14% margin.

It is difficult to think of an issue with which elected officials have behaved in such defiance of popular opinion. The results of this poll don't demonstrate a tepid majority tipping the scales one way or the other on a tough issue. Rather, New Orleanians have made their feelings on the hospital controversy refreshingly clear.

With major municipal elections less than a year away, perhaps local pols would be wise to reevaluate their support for the LSU/VA and consider ways to apply their leadership to resolving the current impasse so that New Orleans can move forward with a less destructive and costly alternative plan for new hospitals.

The full press release about the poll is below the fold. 

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Johnny Adriani catches LSU "fly in the ointment"

Johnny Adrianni, a political consultant from New Orleans and the son of the legendary Dr. John Adriani who worked at Charity Hospital and advocated for lower prescription drug costs, wrote an incredible letter to the editors of the Baton Rouge Advocate.

Mr. Adrianni raises an issue that ought to be raised more often. If Charity was so irreparably damaged by Katrina, why was it so easy to reopen University Hospital, which sustained much more flooding after the levees broke?

Neglected in the whole Charity Hospital debacle is what happened merely a few blocks away at University Hospital. Like Charity, the basement of University Hospital flooded. Unlike Charity, the flooding was not limited to just the basement; the first floor flooded as well.

According to Cerise, “the state relied on recommendations from building experts to make the decision to keep Charity Hospital in New Orleans shut after Hurricane Katrina.”

What he fails to mention is that those recommendations were not exclusive to Charity Hospital. The report the state relied upon also assessed University Hospital.

Donald Smithburg, former CEO and executive vice president of LSU Health Care Services Division, told the LSU Board of Supervisors in October 2005, “The Big Charity and University Hospital buildings were issued their ‘death warrant’ by Katrina and the cataclysmic floods it spawned,” (“Charity, University hospitals ‘dangerous.’ ” Alexandria Daily Town Talk, Oct. 6, 2005, Page 3A).

Smithburg claimed that both Charity and University hospitals were “unusable due to structural, mechanical and environmental damage,” (“Money needed to keep Charity going.” The Times-Picayune, Dec. 10, 2005, Page 7B), as he relied heavily upon the report issued by Adams Management Services Corp., which stated: “Given the dangerous nature of the facilities at this time, they should not be occupied for any purpose, short-term or long-term, especially inpatient use.”

Smithburg also warned that “You can get mold out, you can get dirt out, but you can’t get bacteria out,” (“FORCED TO CHANGE.” The Times-Picayune, Jan. 9, 2006, Page 1A).

Oddly, University Hospital reopened. And therein lies the proverbial “fly in the ointment.” All the claims about Charity Hospital not being “viable” due to mold, structural and other environmental problems ring rather hollow as those very concerns existed at University Hospital.

Good point, Mr. Adrianni! We'd also like to know why the state chose to ignore the recommendations of "building experts" in the case of University Hospital but not Charity, especially when Charity Hospital looked like this three weeks after the storm.

"Charity is a central part of the community" - New Orleans Author Tom Piazza

Tom Piazza is the New Orleans-based author of City of Refuge and a writer for the upcoming HBO series Treme. His book Why New Orleans Matters, written immediately after Hurricane Katrina, received the 2006 Humanities Book of the Year Award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Here Mr. Piazza speaks from about the importance of Charity Hospital from the porch of a Lower Mid-City home. "Charity is a central part of the community," he says. "New Orleans seems to be based, in large measure, on a respect for and an understanding of the past. If you lose that, you lose a lot of what makes the city what it is." See the full video here.


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United Nations Group Studying Forced Evictions

With 30,000 youth volunteers from the Lutheran Church roaming the streets of New Orleans in large herds over this past weekend, you may be forgiven for not noticing a slightly smaller group of visitors that will remain in town for much of the week: the United Nations Advisory Group on Forced Evictions.

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