charity's blog

2014 City Wide Election: Where do the Candidates Stand?

The next couple of weeks will be very important in determining the fate of Big Charity. She was - and still is - YOUR building. She does not belong to politicians or developers.

We feel strongly that at a time when so many of our critical health needs have been neglected, RESIDENTS have a right to decide what will become of the Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital.

As a response to current City policies that incarcerate the mentally ill, one potential adaptive reuse idea for the historic building is for a long-term mental health and medical research multi-complex. Such a use would meet the guidelines for full funding by the Health Education Authority of Louisiana (HEAL) - a bonding agency - thus costing the City nothing. 

Inpatient Hospitals and and outpatient clinics must work in tandem together in order to rehabilitate patients and prevent recidivism.  Imagine what a gift it would be to the friends and families of those who have fallen prey to the patient to prison pipeline to know that their loved ones are being cared for in a hospital instead of a jail cell. 

We will keep you posted on the position of incumbents and candidates regarding Charity as they roll in. In the mean time, feel free to explore our website to read our blog posts about the issue.  To learn more about why Save Charity Hospital thinks it's important, see the attached document at the bottom of this page.

Question to the candidates:  "Do you support studying the - [feasible] - concept of transforming the Charity Hospital Building into a world class mental health facility and research complex?"

Mayor
Michael Bagneris [Yes]
Manny "Chevrolet" Bruno [withdrawn]
Danatus N. King [Yes]
Mitch Landrieu Incumbent [Still no response]
 

Candidates District A
David A. Capasso [Yes]
Jason Coleman [Yes]
Susan Guidry [Yes]
Stephen Gordon [Yes]
Drew Ward [Yes]

District B
LaToya Cantrell Incumbent [Yes]

District C
Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson [No]
Lourdes Moran [Yes]
Nadine Ramsey [Yes]
Carlos Williams [Yes]
Eloise Williams [Yes]

District D
Joseph Bouie [Yes]
Jared Brossett [Yes]
Dalton Savwoir Jr. [Yes]

District E
James Gray II Incumbent [tentative yes]

Andre Kelly [Yes]
Cynthia Willard-Lewis [Yes]

At-Large Division 1
Eugene Green [Yes]
Stacy Head [tentative Yes]

Incumbent At-Large Division 2
Ernest "Freddie" Charbonnet [Yes]
Cynthia Hedge-Morrell [Yes]
Jason Williams [Yes]

Sheriff
Quentin R. Brown [Yes]
Charles C. Foti Jr. [Tentative Yes]
Marlin N. Gusman [Yes]
Ira Thomas [Yes]

Clerk Civil District Court
Dale Atkins [Yes]

Clerk Criminal District Court
Robbie Keen [Yes] 
Arthur A. Morrell [Tentative Yes]

Assessor
Erroll G. Williams

Coroner
Vincent A. Culotta Jr. [Yes]
Dwight McKenna [Yes]
Jeffrey Rouse [Yes]


For more information on the Candidates, please visit the Secretary of State website and select Orleans Parish.

 

The Lens Publishes RESIDENTS Ideas for Adaptive Reuse of Charity Hospital

Today, as part of The Lens series soliciting resident's ideas on "What to Do With Charity Hospital", 
our idea was published.

In previous blog posts regarding the City's idea to repurpose Charity Hospital as a civic center,
Save Charity Hospital has shed light on the enormous hurdles and financial burdens that would have to be overcome in order for that idea to work.  Not least of which - is the refusal by the Civil District Court Judges to move into and help finance the necessary Charity Hospital renovations.

As the story unravels, we have learned that Pres Kabacoff of HRI Properties seems to be the force behind the civic center idea as part of his one billion dollar vision to turn downtown New Orleans into an Afro-Caribbean Paris.   There is just one problem with his plan.  It is our billion dollars he is talking about.
Not his.

That said, we at Save Charity Hospital believe that the existing Reverend Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital Building can be repurposed to meet critical needs of residents rather than developers fantasies.

Our idea:

  • Would not cost the City a penny,
  • Would eventually provide revenue back to the buildings owner,
  • Would kick-start the mission of the BioDistrict to commercialize medical research and eventually manufacturing and production,
  • Would shift housing the mentally ill with long-term patient needs from the jail to the hospital,
  • Would transition mentally ill patients into supportive communities in-line with the City's initiatives to provide outpatient and tight wrap-around services and,
  • Would provide an additional facility where lost and abandoned dwellers in the Central Business District [CBD] and Downtown Development Districts [DDD] can go to be loved and cared for.  
  • Would provide a Government Service Offices One-Stop-Shop to residents that otherwise have to travel to multiple locations and multiple parishes to have their needs met.

In addition, the location is near the new VA and Louisiana Children's Medical Center/ University Medical Center Hospitals being built in Lower MidCity and is a perfect pairing with the old VA building being used as a facility to provide services to the homeless.

Read more about our idea below and visit The Lens article to comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proposal for recycling Charity Hospital emphasizes mental health services

 

 

 

 

 

Janet Hays

Kimberlee Lauer

Janet Hays

 

Since Charity Hospital was abandoned after Hurricane Katrina, it seems like everyone and has come forward with a plan for the adaptive reuse of the Art Deco masterpiece. And yet eight years later it stands empty. Mayor Mitch Landrieu wants to put City Hall and Civil District Court in the building, though he hasn’t gotten the judges to agree. The Lens solicited the views of our readers and city leaders; over the next several days we are publishing edited versions of their ideas. Post your reactions in the comments below each story.

I recommend that the historic Charity Hospital building be renovated for inpatient psychiatric care, as well as mental-health, biomedical and life-sciences research, health-care cooperatives and clinics. The building could operate as a “one-stop shop” for government services that meet a variety of needs.

I am imagining the building divided into three components. One tower should be dedicated to mental-health needs. The middle portion should be renovated and leased to individuals and organizations involved in general health services, education and research.

The third tower should be a one-stop shop that might include welfare and food stamp offices, the New Orleans offices of the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals and its Department of Children and Family Services. Social Security offices could be housed there and perhaps some employment services as well. These government functions are currently scattered all over the city, making access very difficult for the poor and those most in need. And not only are they scattered, they seem to move every couple of years, so it’s not uncommon for people to miss crucial appointments – to say nothing of the cost of all this moving around to both the organizations and to taxpayers.

 

The health-education and research components would not only help spur development of Louisiana’s medical industry, they might also make the building eligible for bond money from the Health Education Authority of Louisiana. Rents from privately leased space could be used to finance the building’s psychiatric services and provide a funding mechanism to pay back the bond money.

 

As residents, tourists and business leaders regularly observe, the city’s downtown streets are home to a significant number of residents with apparent mental health problems. The numbers are likely to increase.

People with mental-health needs are often uninsured and stigmatized by a society that fears or scorns them. To top it off, both inpatient and outpatient care is grossly insufficient.

Those who have insurance can find long-term treatment in private facilities such as Children’s Hospital on State Street. Those without insurance are hard-pressed to find any services at all — outside of Orleans Parish Prison.

As a response to mental health needs, expanding the new jail to include an additional 600 beds is both inhumane and expensive. The majority of mentally ill people end up in jail because they stop taking their medications. Criminalizing them does not offer a long-term solution to recidivism.

Common sense tells us that a jail is not conducive to restoring mental stability. Indeed, problems are only likely to worsen in an environment bereft of the caring support of friends and families that mental patients need.

The sad truth is that Orleans Parish Prison is currently the city’s No. 1 psychiatric care facility. What we need instead are supportive communities with wrap-around services and outpatient care, places where patients can be housed after their discharge from hospitals.

Since the financial crisis hit in 2008, nearly 4,000 psychiatric beds have been eliminated nationwide or are being considered for elimination, and 11 state hospitals have been closed or are being considered for closure,according to a March 2011 report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. At the same time, community services, including crisis intervention and stabilization programs, have been eliminated.

In post-Katrina New Orleans, 65 to 70 percent of inpatient psychiatric beds have been eliminated.

“History illustrates that eliminating hospital beds without appropriate community alternatives is cruel, irresponsible public policy and leads to shifting of costs to criminal justice systems and emergency departments rather than true cost savings,” the report says.

“A range of options for responding to youth and adults in crisis is needed, including mobile crisis teams, 24-hour crisis-stabilization programs, and inpatient beds in community hospitals. It is also important to preserve beds in state hospitals, particularly for those individuals requiring intermediate or long-term care,” the report says.

Before the unnecessary closure of Charity, the hospital maintained approximately 128 psychiatric beds on the third floor. We should not be reinventing services that once made our community a national model.

Substantial evidence shows the feasibility of renovating Charity for psychiatric care. In August 2007, the state Office of Facility Planning and Control commissioned the Blitch Knevel architecture firm to study Charity’s potential for renovation. The study concluded that the psychiatric portion of the building could be brought back for about $50 million, a fraction of the cost of new construction. An alternative strategy for partially reactivating psychiatric services at Charity would cost less, the study concluded.

Other studies show that while the building may be unsuitable for courtrooms, it is perfect for a modern day hospital and, I would argue, research laboratories.

In the study ordered by the Louisiana Legislature and commissioned by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, RMJM Hillier, architects of the now operational Louisiana Cancer Research Center, showed that the entire building could be brought back as a full-service teaching hospital for $600 million — again, far less than the new construction going up on the other side of Claiborne Avenue.

In 2010, mental health professionals devised a one-year patient-rehabilitation program that would release patients into transitional communities with tight wrap-around services. That’s exactly the niche a repurposed Charity could fulfill, using just a third of the available space.

It is too late to right many of the wrongs that residents of New Orleans have had to endure throughout the years, but reusing Charity Hospital for medical services — a purpose for which it was always intended — is one wrong that is not too late to right. It enjoys enormous support from a cross-section of the community. And unlike a civic center, it would not cost city taxpayers a penny.

Janet Hays is a community organizer and justice advocate. As part of the Save Charity Hospital organization, she helped with research and outreach. She blogs at Save Charity Hospital.

 

Flying Without A Safety Net Means People Will Die‏

LSU's Decision to cut the charity out of the 7 Charity Hospitals in Southern Louisiana, instigated at the behest of the Governor to find a way to absorb Federal cuts to medicaid spending in Louisiana, speaks volumes about LSU's administrators disrespect for human life.  The Governor, for what appears to be political reasons, chose not to accept the Federal medicaid reinbursement that was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act.  This will hundreds of thousands uninsured, with nowhere to go.

Such a shame!  LSU physicians have a proven track record of offering some of the world's best and most advanced heathcare to all of their patients in Louisiana - regardless of class, race or economic situation.  Indeed, many insured people have communicated to SaveCharityHospital.com that they would go nowhere else.  Doctors have offered their services with compassion and concern to all who enter any of the 10 State-run Charity Hospitals.

Medical students have traditionally come to New Orleans to study at Charity Hospital due to the challenging conditions, a complicated genetic mix and to participate in the most advanced medical scientific research in the country.  It seems that LSU is now mostly concerned with capitalizing on students to increase profit margins while eliminating services and programs for patients. Would potential students choose to study at LSU if they had to do their residencies at private hospitals under public/private partnerships with other hospitals. That question needs to be asked.  The national agency that accredits graduate medical education programs is pressing LSU officials for information on their plans to revamp physician training programs.

Compassion does not seem to imbibe to administrators and some legislators that dance to the Machiavellian beat of the Governor's drum.

That the decision to cut funding for the thousands of indigent, working poor and uninsured was implemented without first creating a system to absorb such patients means that many in Louisiana could very well die.
  This is not hyperbole.  Yet this was predictable.

The decision to privatize the Charity system - a single payer system thats biggest flaw was a lack of transparency and accountability - was made well before Katrina.

Brad Ott, is an expert in heathcare and, in particular, the Charity Hospital system and has revived Advocates for Louisiana Public Healthcare [ALPH] in the wake of the latest cuts.   His thesis is titled "The Closure of New Orleans' Charity Hospital After Hurricane Katrina: A Case of Disaster Capitalism"

There is a lot of evidence that LSU planned on closing Charity before Katrina.  See the part of his thesis  (after or about page 60) that deals with that hypothesis):

Ott points out that there are options to closing funding gaps without eviscerating charity care from the LSU system. 
The funding options include redirecting funds currently in the private schemes Bayou Health and the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership to public safety net LSU and community hospitals and clinics: and reallocation of DSH funds from provide providers to LSU and rural hospitals.

An old trick that right-wing conservatives use in order to eliminate government programs - that many people around the world know well - is to:   Intentionally starve the system to create it's collapse and then use it's collapse to show that it doesn't work and we must privatize it.  It seems that the people of Louisiana have fallen prey to this trick.

We are presented with this false choice by Governor Jindal and the LSU board of supervisors.  While the State had already cut the Charity system to the bone then,  because of  a federal $859 Million dollar cut to Louisiana's medicaid program, Governor Bobby Jindal decided to privatize the whole system.

Who wins and who loses under this sort of system?  Without transparency and accountability, what is to stop private insurance companies and/or hospitals from continuing to game the system?  The idea of forking over truckloads of public money to such private institutions before such regulations or partnerships are in place is distressing at best.

If that weren't enough,  at the LSU Health HCE Fall Quarterly Meeting October 16th, 2012, keynote speaker Dr. Opelka, emphasized that heathcare's future is no longer about bricks and mortar. Yet that's all we heard from LSU about why they had to build a Taj-Ma-Hospital in Lower MidCity on top of a now razed historic neighborhood and community. As well, at some point in the near future, New Orleans City Council will meet to turn over of Pershing Place (Nanny Goat Park) - our public park where the doughboy statue stands as a monument to WWI soldiers - to the State to increase land for a hospital that may be 100 beds at best.   Why on earth does the State need MORE land and why on earth would the Mayor and City Council allow it? Will that take more of the street grid? When the I-10 is dismantled -  (as planned) - think of the traffic nightmare.

So what can you do?

 

Sign this petition to the Lousiana Division of Administration & Department of Health and Hospitals to keep Southeast Louisiana Mental Hospital Open

 

 

Palas Hotel will implode July 22

Reporting on the University Medical Center Board meeting yesterday.

[Agenda attached]

During the public comments portion of the agenda, the following questions were asked:

  • Did the State perform all of the archaeological and environmental assessment studies according to the full programmatic requirements and where can people obtain copies of them?
  • When will the strategic part of the business plan that was promised last fall to the Joint Budget Committee - in order to obtain approval for construction - be completed so we can know how the new UMC academic medical center cash flow without any extra help from the State?
  • VAMC representatives stated during their presentation at the last UMC board meeting that their new hospital will cost 707 Million dollars to activate.  How much will it cost to activate the new UMC Hospital given the fact that enormous amounts of money will be necessary to repatriate staff and patients and promote the hospital to medical tourists? - A key component of the business plan?
  • The dismantling of the Palas Hotel piece by piece is a plan to avoid asbestos contamination when the building is imploded, yet the debris they are removing is often picked up by the wind from inside the building and spreading around the area.  Is this method of abatement within environmental laws?

While no answers were given regarding a strategic plan or activation costs, Tom Rish - the State official overseeing Skanska/'Mapp - [construction manager at risk] - said they did do archaeological studies  but did not say if studies met full programmatic requirements.  He said DEQ is overseeing all work being done on the Palas Hotel site.

Earlier this year, State Facility Planning and Control had to ask for an additional million plus dollars to remove the windows from the Palas Hotel because they discovered asbestos.  Now they are removing the skin also – dismantling it piece by piece.

The public relations, marketing and advertising group Bright Moments have been brought in to inform the community about how to protect themselves from dust and environmental impacts that will happen when the Grand Old Palace Hotel is imploded on July 22.  The contractors handling the demolition are Controlled Demolition Inc. and Contaminant Control Inc.

Also during the presentation updating board members on construction of the new hospital, the audience learned that the FEMA money for the contents of Charity Hospital that was said to be a done deal, is not a done deal.  Apparently there is some discrepancy between State and Federal FEMA representatives over compensation. Save Charity Hospital readers will recall that part of the money to pay for building the new hospital in the business plan that was presented to the State last fall in order to get the "all clear" for construction was that FEMA money.   

The other part of the plan that made up the difference for lack of funding was 132 million dollars that was to come from the Louisiana Physicians Foundation.  According to State officials, there is still no contract solidifying that agreement though there is a "commitment".

Let's hope for New Orleanians who have lived without a world class medical teaching facility for almost 8 years since it was shuttered by the State and LSU - and will not see one for at least 2 more years - that this commitment is honored!

What do administrators of the new VA hospital know that we don't?

There were some interesting developments at the UMC Board meeting last Thursday April 12, 2012.

First on the agenda was the selection - by lot - of either Delgado Community College or Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College for the revolving seat to succeed Dillard University "pursuant to Section 2(d) of Article 6 of the Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation of UMCMC. " 

In a somewhat mechanical and unremarkable moment, Delgado was selected by a draw to serve a "two (2) year term to commence upon the expiration of the two (2) year term of Charles Teamer representing Dillard University in August 2012."

This will be convenient for BioDistrict New Orleans who have been working closely with Delgado Community College on the plan to educate a workforce that will be conveyored into laboratories and research facilities to support the upper echelons of those fortunate enough to receive NIH grants.  BioDistrict New Orleans will hold their regular quarterly pubilc board meeting today - Thursday, April 19, 2012.

The UMC Board meeting was held at the new Tulane Cancer Research Center, a beautiful new facility designed by RMJM, the same architectural firm involved with the study that proved that the existing Charity Hospital building could be retrofited with UMC's brand new facility for half the cost of the building currently going up in lower mid-city.

They might want to keep that in mind in this new era of LSU's budget and staff cuts, the entire lopping off of programs, and the fact that the board -- as of today - have not acquired the added 200 million they need to complete the Ambulatory Care Building or the second parking garage.  That money was to come from from the LSU Physicians Foundation and FEMA reimbursements for the contents of Charity Hospital.  The UMC board have only spent approximately 132 million dollars of their 900 million dollar budget.  At SaveCharityHospital.com, we believe that it is never too late to do the right thing.  

If this weren't enough, additionally, the UMC Board do not have a strategic plan that shows how the board will fund and operate the new replacement hospital.  In the presentation given to the board by Julie Catellier, director, it was noted that while construction of the new VA hospital will cost just under 1 billion dollars, activation of their new facility will cost 707 million dollars - bringing the total cost to 1.6 billion dollars.  This announcement drew gasps from some of those in the room - and so it should.  Kaufman Hall and Associates projected in a previous meeting last year that activation of the new UMC facility will cost at least between 100 and 170 million dollars.  This should give representative Fannin, Chair of the Legistative Joint Budget Committee, heartburn. 

Most interesting however, was the answer given by Ms. Catellie to a question posed by Byron Harrell from the UMC Board steering committee. He asked what she saw as the differences between the two hospitals.  In her response she said that the VA offers full continuum of care - [under income requirements, returning soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan enter into a 5 year period of care] and that, while LSU does not have a long term care mission, the VA will share with LSU on their strengths.  IE: trauma, obstetrics, and prisoner care.

Obstetrics?

Do administrators of the new VA hospital know something that we don't?

Or... did representatives of LSU advising the VA - as they pound in pilings - forget to inform VA administrators that LSU has cut their obstetrics program?  Their Veterans will have to cross town to get care at Touro and Tulane's Lakeside facility in Metairie - defeating the purpose of having the hospitals built side by side with students and patients not having to leave the campus.

The VA will have a beautiful new hospital at it's approximate completion of the end of 2015, and it will certainly be easy to spot across the vast wasteland that once was a thriving historic neighborhood in Lower MidCity.  

2:00 pm Saturday, March 3, 2012 - POST KATRINA CONFLICT AND CHANGE: LSU/VA HOSPITALS, PROGRESS OR CIVIC DISASTER‏

 This is going to be a great Discussion!

 
Below is the information on the hospital discussion at the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic next Saturday. If you mention that you are with either non-profit, Smart Growth or FHL, admission is free. Please help spread the word.
 

2:00 pm   Saturday, March 3, 2012   Weinmann Hall, Rm 202  - Tulane University

POST KATRINA CONFLICT AND CHANGE: LSU/VA HOSPITALS, PROGRESS OR CIVIC DISASTER

The decision on whether and how to rebuild Charity and the Veterans Affairs Hospitals in New Orleans post-Katrina raised many complex issues and challenges. Local experts and citizen advocates will examine failures in the public process, alternatives that were available, fiscal responsibility, the impacts to the environment, community, historic neighborhoods, social justice, and healthcare  - and the lessons learned going forward.

Mary Howell, Civil Rights Attorney; Sandra Stokes, Director at Large, Foundation for Historical Louisiana; Bill Borah, Land Use Attorney, President, Smart Growth for Louisiana; Jacques Morial, Public Policy Specialist

Hope to see you there!

Tomorrow, after 4 consecutive months, the UMC board will finally hold a board meeting

 

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?

Other questions:

  • 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.

 

 

Video: UMC Board finally gets the business plan - THEY WANT - passed

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 dismissed that option saying that Tulane Medical Center - a partnership jointly owned by HCA and Tulane University - was not for sale.  Yet in an Eyewitness News report the day before the Joint Budget Committee hearing approving the construction budget, it was stated that 

"Eyewitness News can confirm that Tulane Medical Center and Ochsner, two of the biggest players on the local health care market have been in negotiations recently over the future of Tulane Medical Center."

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. 

Joint Budget Committee hearing September 16,20011

 
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."

 

A business plan full of holes. Sign the petition!

It's not too late to sign the petition!  

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.  

Sign the petition urging legislators to save taxpayer money and retrofit a modern State-Of-The-Art hospital in the existing Charity building!  

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.”
[Letter Attached]  

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. 
Cultural changes. 
Market share. 
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.

 

An "all options" study without Charity Hospital IS NOT an "all options study"!

The UMC board are set to meet on Thursday afternoon at 1:00PM to hear a presentation by Vérité Consultants on the long awaited “business plan”.  [See the attached agenda for details]  

Will Vérité demonstrate that it has considered the retrofit of Rev. Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital as an option? 

Sign The Petiton

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.

Do like DR. John says and sign the petiton!

 

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