Janet's blog

Why Charity for a Civic Center when Judges emphatically said no?

As reported by SaveCharityHospital.com on July 15, 2013, the City of New Orleans signed a Cooperative Endeavour Agreement (CEA) June 30, 2010 with the State that obligated the City to build a new Civil District Courthouse on Duncan Plaza - replacing the old Supreme Court Justice Building.  

In a July 25, 2013 article, The Uptown Messenger reported that the Charity Hospital building: “doesn’t work for the Civil Courts who have their own plans and money to refit the former state office building site in Duncan Plaza. “We won’t be moving to Charity Hospital,” says Judge Bagneris. Evidently many other CDC judges agree.”  

In fact, Judge Bagneris said as much in a letter to Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant dated June 10, 2013.  

Uptown Messenger continues…  

One of those who is hoping that the mayor is able to change the minds of Judge Bagneris and his fellow jurists is Pres Kabacoff. Kabacoff, whose company, HRI, is one of the best in the world at taking old buildings and making them like new, is also one of New Orleans’ best visionaries and thinkers.

Really?  My my how things do change.  This is the same Kabacoff who - in a Times Picayune article dated October 27th, 2009 criticized the idea of moving City Hall into Charity Hospital. Rebecca Mowbray wrote:  

“But Pres Kabacoff, chief executive of Historic Restoration Inc., sees problems with the approach. It doesn't make financial sense to restore a million-square-foot building when the city needs only 400,000 square feet, he said. And Kabacoff added that it's hard for a public body to use historic renovation tax credits, so Charity might have to be sold to a private interest and then leased back to the state or city on a long-term basis.  

Location, location, location  

Kabacoff said City Hall's current location is tough to beat in terms of visibility, accessibility and nearby public space.  
With plans under way to move state offices into Benson Tower, the former Dominion Tower, and to create a "sports entertainment district" in the former New Orleans Centre mall, and with proposals under review to put a streetcar line on Loyola Avenue, the value of City Hall's current location will only improve. Meanwhile, open space on Duncan Plaza and surface parking lots on both sides of Loyola Avenue give plenty of options for reconfiguring space.  
"I would still keep it in that location, Kabacoff said."

We at SaveCharityHospital.com question why - at a time when residents of New Orleans desperately need a new Civil District Courthouse as well as other acute needs such as psychiatric and medical care, two consent decrees, and redevelopment of blighted neighborhoods - everything must be put on hold for the whims of a real estate developer whose interests are now in acquiring “that large piece of existing land just across from the Superdome [that] would become an outstanding investment opportunity developers from around the country would kill for.” Pres Kabacoff  

One would hope that Kabacoff is not the puppet master behind the rush to move out of City Hall and into Charity Hospital but, suddenly, in 2010, after legislation was signed that would allow the City to build the new Civil District Courthouse and a Municipal Complex on Duncan Plaza, there was an urgency to move City Hall into Charity Hospital to accommodate Kabacoff’s new scheme.  That scheme was eloquently outlined in an article by Katy Reckdahl, on October 31, 2010 for The Times-Picayune titled:
Iberville housing complex area: the next Lakeside Shopping Center?  Reckdahl reported:

‘’While the city is partnering with HANO and its developers for the Choice Neighborhoods grant, Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant said the administration has not committed to city occupancy in the Charity building. Instead, he said only that the "adaptive reuse of Charity Hospital" was part of a larger vision for a redeveloped New Orleans, and that the city was working with the state to consider options.   But Kabacoff noted that Landrieu has been clear that the current City Hall is outmoded. And, in Kabacoff's view, a move to the Charity building would be "a lot more important than just a new house: It would also kick-start a transformation of the city. Two birds with one stone."”  

So what other plans does Kabacoff have for PUBLIC property and PUBLIC lands in New Orleans that will be paid for with PUBLIC money?  

At a June 19 BioDistrict Board Meeting Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Andy Kopplin - who is also a commissioner on the BioDistrict Board - asked his fellow commissioners:  

What “is the grand vision for Duncan Plaza?  …  I think it is a critical civic facility and I don’t think that at this point the City’s perspective is that the best and highest use of that particular piece of property is for a courthouse.“  

This begs the question – what does the City think is the best and highest use for that public space?  Or, should we ask, what are Pres Kabacoff’s plans for Duncan Plaza?  

While the Judges have been completely open and transparent about making their plans for their new Civil District Courthouse available to the public, not one document regarding the City’s plans for repurposing Charity Hospital was made available to the public until after it was discovered that the City’s Property Management Office had submitted a $300 million dollar request to the City Planning Commission during their Capital Budget request hearings - after the fact.  Yet, we know that the City have been quietly working on these plans for at least TWO YEARS!  

In a comment to SaveCharityHospital.com, Nick Kindel of the Citizens Participation Project said:
"I think that it is important to discuss the alternatives for a new Civic Center (in Charity Hospital or elsewhere) in a public process. I think that it is disappointing that the City has not done that. It is obvious from the plans that have come out recently, that the City has been working on this for a while. Yet the City has not made these plans public at all. This spring when all City Departments make their Capital Budget requests, there was no mention of a $300 million Civic Center. It was only after the meeting to discuss this proposal was the request made, and it was only after the proposal came out in the media that the City provided its $300 million plans for a Civic Center at Old Charity."
City Quietly Requests $300 million to move City Hall to Charity Hospital  

We agree.  We think that residents of New Orleans should always be included in the planning process in order that our priorities are identified and fulfilled.  The Uptown Messenger asks: “So the question in 2013 is who will play the roles of Dave Dixon, Moon Landrieu and John McKeithen, to end the deadlock and come up with a resolution to the dilemma of moving City Hall out of its current obsolete facility into a future home that will bolster the remarkable comeback since Hurricane Katrina of this resilient city that we call the Big Easy but where nothing worthwhile is ever easy.”

SaveCharityHospital.com asks: remarkable comeback since Hurricane Katrina for whom? Gert Town?  Zion City?  Hollygrove?  The Lower Nine?  New Orleans East?  Central City? – Just a few neighborhoods that do not necessarily feel “bolstered”.   Why not ask them what critical services they might want to see in Charity Hospital.    

How about a full service psychiatric care inpatient facility for the uninsured that would benefit the entire city?  SaveCharityHospital.com will be publishing such a plan soon.  

Perhaps Pres Kabacoff - given his ability to be able to change his mind as evidenced above - may support the concept envisioned by one of our members. [Concept idea attached].

Stay tuned y'all

Letter shows Mayor Landrieu endorsed building a new courthouse on Duncan Plaza

As reported by SaveCharityHospital.com last week - and as Judge Michael Bagneris corroborated in an interview with WDSU's Anchor Norman Robinson on The Hot Seat July 14, 2013 [Pt 1] - 

in the fall of 2010, the City of New Orleans signed a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement [CEA] with the State that obligated the City to build a new Civil District Courthouse on Duncan Plaza replacing the old Supreme Court Justice building. At that time, judges turned over all documentation that they had pertaining to construction of a new Civil District Courthouse to the Mayor and Deputy Mayors responsible for the redevelopment.

In the interview, Norman Robinson queried Judge Bagneris as to whether or not the City had shared all of their studies pertaining to reusing Charity Hospital as a Civic Center.  Judge Bagneris pointed out that they had been "blind-sided" by the City's plan and that you can not provide information you do not have.  i.e.: there is no feasibility study.

This might explain why the City has yet to honor a public records request made by members of SaveCharityHospital.com on June 26th, 2013 to turn over all studies, schematics and documents pertaining to the Civic Center project proposed by the Landrieu administration.

Judge Bagneris responded to Norman Robinson's observation that it is unusual for a judge to appear in the media to advocate on an issue with this comment:

"I knew this seat wouldn't be hot for me because when you're right you're right."

 

The Mayor was invited to the Hot Seat interview.  He declined to appear on the show or send a representative.

 

Bottom line is - The city has a concept - not a feasibility study - on their idea for the reuse of the iconic historic Charity Hospital building to be transformed into a multipurpose facility.

For context: Mayor Landrieu had signed a letter to Chief Justice Catherine Kimball - Chair of the Judicial Council of the Supreme Court of Louisiana in the fall of 2010 - in support of Act 768 permitting "the City an opportunity to build a municipal complex and courthouse on the Duncan Plaza site."

Act 900 created a revenue stream to allow the City of New Orleans to work with the courts to meet it's statutory obligation.  


[Full letter attached]

So what happened?  Why the Mayor's sudden shift in position?

What, or who, persuaded the Landrieu Administration to shelve the idea that the legislature and Supreme Court approved in favor of using the Historic Charity Hospital building as a civic center that would house the Courts, City Council and City Hall all under one umbrella that would automatically net the City approximately $100 million dollars of New Courthouse Building Committee funds and millions of yearly maintenance funds.

In terms of dollars, without the judges support to build a new courthouse in Old Charity, the city ain't got nothing in the kind of dollars it would take to renovate the building.  See part 2 of the WDSU interview here.

 

The problem is that, despite testimony given at the Natural Resources Committee hearing in Baton Rouge on May 8, 2013 - [SB154 begins at 1:00:00] - where the city stated that renovating the Charity Hospital building would cost $100 million dollars - [almost the same amount that the New Courthouse Building Committee intends to spend to build a stand alone Civil District Courthouse on Duncan Plaza] - that figure is largely unrealistic.  At the same hearing Senator Murray testified that renovating Charity Hospital would cost upwards of $300 - $400 million dollars. 

The City's own recent release of their plans for a civic center calls for $270,657,968 dollars of public money or city revenue bonds that would have to be paid back through court fees and/or new taxes. Of the 5 plans considered, the Charity Hospital plan was the most costly. 

The city is in desperate need of a new courthouse NOW and the New Courthouse Building Committee holds the money.  The judges' decision not to use Charity Hospital for the new courts is further compounded by restrictions on column widths and ceiling heights in the old building.  While perfect for a modern day hospital, ceiling heights do not meet the needs of the courts according to the National Center of State Courts.   See the full report here: [Pay special attention to pages 21-34]

The City’s plans for completion of a civic center - again, according to testimony given by representatives of the city at the May 8th hearing in Baton Rouge - extend anywhere from 2016 to 2018.  This also has judges hopping mad.

As reported in The Court Crier Web News Extra:

"Once construction starts, it should take approximately two (2) years to complete.  Act 900 gives a deadline of August 15, 2014 to accept public bids for the construction of a new facility.  Assuming all deadlines are met and the weather cooperates, a new edifice ought to be constructed no later than 2016.  This City deserves a 21st-century courthouse.  Working together, that’s exactly what we will achieve."

Members of SaveCharityHospital.com advocate that adaptive reuse plans for the Art-Deco Charity Hospital building should be put to the public.  One option floated by Janet Hays in a WWLTV interview is to use one third of the building for inpatient psychiatric care for the uninsured and to use the other two thirds of the building for health education offices dealing with mental health and biomedical research, healthcare cooperatives and life sciences.  

Let us know what you would like to see done with the building using our contact form.  

Updated: Charity Hospital Plans: Top Secret?

Much information has been revealed lately about Mayor Landrieu's plans to turn Charity Hospital into a new civic center.  We at SaveCharityHospital.com have learned that design plans exist.  So why does the City have yet to share those plans with the public?  Is Charity Hospital not a public building? Is money being spent on developing plans not public money?

The issue forcing the City's hand regarding their plans for the historic Charity Hospital is their lack of funding to renovate the building.  

NOLACPP reported:
"An interesting revelation came up at Property Management’s meeting on June 24; they were requesting $300 million to build a new Civic Center at Charity Hospital."

"The original Property Management capital budget request does not mention $300 million for a new Civic Center. The first mention of the proposed Civic Center was at Property Management’s public hearing on June 24. Property Management then submitted a revised request that included the Civic Center request on June 25, the day after their public hearing. If you are going to $300 million (which is more than the entire approved 2004 Bond Sale) to build a new City Hall, should you let the public know about it ahead of time?"

Other recent incidences point to the City's attempt to cobble together the millions of dollars of restoration money.  At the Natural Resources Committee hearing in Baton Rouge on May 8, 2013, legislators – after hearing conflicting testimony between - on one side - Senator Edwin Murray, the President of BioDistrict New Orleans, and Justice Michael Bagneris - [acting as Chairman of the New Courthouse Building Committee] -  and The City of New Orleans on the other - voted to pass Bill SB 154.   The bill was introduced by Senator Murray on behalf of the court judges, that:  “Authorizes the state to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with BioDistrict New Orleans providing for use of the Louisiana State Supreme Court site and state office building site located at 325 Loyola Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana.”  

So, why on earth would judges call upon Senator Murray to ink that deal you ask?  Well, as it turns out, the City had signed a CEA with the State three years ago that obligated the City to build a new Civil District Court on Duncan Plaza at the site of the old Supreme Court building but it never happened.  

In fact, SaveCharityHospital.com has learned that in the fall of 2010, Mayor Landrieu inked a letter to Chief Justice Catherine Kimball - Chair of the Judicial Council of the Supreme Court of Louisiana - in support of Act 768 permiting the City an opportunity to build a municipal complex and courthouse on the Duncan Plaza site.

Act 900 created a revenue stream to allow the City of New Orleans to work with the courts to meet it's statuatory obligation.

So what happened?  Why the Mayor's sudden shift in position?

What, or who, persuaded the Landrieu Administration to shelve that idea in favor of using the Historic Charity Hospital building as a civic center that would house the Courts, City Council and City Hall all under one umbrella.  

The problem is that, despite testimony given at the the May 8th legislative hearing that renovating the building would cost $100 million dollars - [coincidentally, almost exactly the amount the New Courthouse Building Committee intends to spend their dollars on to build a new Civil District Courthouse] – that figure is largely unrealistic.  Senator Murray testified that renovating Charity Hospital would cost upwards of $300 - $400 million dollars.  

The City's own recent release of their plans for a civic center calls for $270,657,968 dollars of public money or city revenue generated bonds that would have to be paid back through fees and/or taxes.   Of the 5 plans considered, the Charity Hospital plan was the most costly. 

The city is in desperate need of a new courthouse NOW and the New Courthouse Building Committee has the money.  The decision not to use Charity Hospital for the new courts was further compounded by restrictions on ceiling heights in the old building.  While perfect for a modern day hospital, ceiling heights do not meet the needs of the courts according to the National Center of State Courts.   See the full report here: [Pay special attention to pages 21-34]

The City’s plans for completion of a civic center - again, according to testimony given by representatives of the city at the May 8th hearing in Baton Rouge - extend anywhere from 2016 to 2018.  This has Judges hopping mad.

As reported in The Court Crier Web News Extra:

"Once construction starts, it should take approximately two (2) years to complete.  Act 900 gives a deadline of August 15, 2014 to accept public bids for the construction of a new facility.  Assuming all deadlines are met and the weather cooperates, a new edifice ought to be constructed no later than 2016.  This City deserves a 21st-century courthouse.  Working together, that’s exactly what we will achieve."

Another indication that the city was planning the new civic center in Charity Hospital came up at a public works committee hearing in June in the City Council Chambers.  As part of the discussion pertaining to the accounting of $250 million dollars of hazard mitigation grant money - [video segment begins at about 1:13:30] – Deputy Mayor Grant, speaking on behalf of Col. Jernigan from the Department of Public Works, revealed that $50 million dollars of that money has been allocated to a potential “future civic center”.  That left some Councilmembers scratching their heads.  Apparently they seemed to not have seen the Landrieu Administration plans either.  Deputy Mayor Grant had to clarify that the new civic center is - in fact - Charity Hospital.  

At the May 8th legislative hearing, the City insisted that ultimately the responsibility for ensuring that the new courthouse gets built falls on the city and that the BioDistrict has no money to foot the bonds or leverage private/public partnerships.  

That leaves taxpayers of New Orleans in a situation commonly known as a cluster… ahem.  

Here is a novel idea, why doesn't the City meet it's obligation to build the new Civil District Courthouse on Duncan Plaza like they said they would three years ago, build the new City Hall next to it… like they said they would – [or repair the building that they already have] – renovate Charity Hospital to become a state-of-the-art psychiatric facility while leasing out research offices and clinics to sustain it – [something that is desperately needed!] - and dissolve the artificial “built community” BioDistrict boundary line and fold it's mission into other agencies better equipped to attract researchers to develop where ever they want in New Orleans.  

Stay tuned.  Lot's more to come.

And the elephant is pushed down the road once again. State Civil Service Commission vote to approve privatizations

Today - Monday June 10, 2013 - the Louisiana State Civil Service Commission voted to reverse their decision opposing privatizing 4 of 9 Charity Hospitals across the State.

The vote was 3-2 with the deciding vote cast by Commissioner Scott Hughes who noted that the Legislature pretty well sealed the deal when it appropriated no funding for the hospitals.

We will see what landmines await for the indigent, the working poor and uninsured await as we move forward with the Governors great experiment.  

Of note is that we have no certainty of the Federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS] approval to ensure Federal funding for whatever privatization Governor Jindal clearly desires.  If CMS cannot get answers from the State to concerns they have regarding the privatizationsany medicaid money that has being allocated for Louisiana for next year will likely have to be paid back.

Sandra Stokes, board member of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana was present to comment at the meeting.  Her remarks were particularly prescient. Special thanks to Ms. Stokes from the team at SaveCharityHospital.com for allowing us to print her remarks. [See below]

-------------------

Civil Service Commission –

6/10/13

We appreciate the Civil Service Commission taking a hard look at the economy and efficiency of the privatization of the UMC Hospital.   I love those words….. Efficiency and economy.  We have been asking for a realistic examination of the project since August 20th, 2008. 

As Executive Chair of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana – I led the study to analyze the reuse of Charity Hospital.  Charged by the 2006 legislature in HCR89 - FHL raised the $600K in private funds for the study – and hired the best.  This study concluded we could build a new state of the art academic hospital inside the shell of Charity hospital for a savings of at least 34%, or $283M in the hospital portion alone.  Now that is economy!

And, with the hospital empty of patients, it could be completed in only 3 years.  Jobs, the medical school, and access to healthcare for the city could have been back at full tilt by 2011.  Now that is efficiency!

The medical district of New Orleans would have been revitalized, and better yet, we wouldn’t have had to take people’s homes after they returned and struggled to rebuild after Katrina.  And the concept plan developed in the study gave LSU all the bells and whistles they wanted in their dream medical center – not the scaled down version that is being built that lacks obstetrics, pediatrics, a parking garage – and much more.

We, along with 77 local and national organizations continually pleaded for the governor to call for an objective cost benefit analysis comparing the reuse of Charity to the LSU’s plan – to determine the most efficient and economic way to proceed.  It never happened.   The only group that did call for a cost benefit analysis was the Legislative Streamlining Commission.  Again, it never happened.

None of this has ever been about efficiency or economy – or even common sense at that.  With all the questionable events at Charity after Katrina – the medical staff and military repairing, cleaning and preparing the hospital to reopen while patients were left to be treated in tents and trailers for years in order to push through the misguided agenda for a new building.

We watched bad decision after bad decision being made, with little or no factual basis or independent examination of the decisions. We were assured the hospital would be self sustaining.  I won’t bore you with reliving the long litany of misrepresentations made by LSU along the way.  But most, if not all things we were told time and again did not come true. 

It seems - with the premise of – you can’t turn back now -  more and more bad decisions are made – costly  decisions that impact every citizen and taxpayer of this state. They have to keep moving this elephant down the road. And always with quick deadlines, so decisions are rushed – like this one.

We had hopes that when the University Medical Center Management Corporation was established that they would start to look at the numbers, and be more realistic. We hoped THEY would commission a cost benefit analysis and finally show that the LSU plan was not efficient or economically sound.

And we hoped there was FINALLY going to be reason when we heard their own consultants say LSU’s Academic Medical Center could NOT be self sufficient – or sustainable.   We spoke out in shock the legislature, at Joint Budget Committee in 2010 when, according to the UMC’s own study, taxpayers would have to subsidize the expense of the hospital to the tune of at least $70 - $100M more per year.  Now, with privatization, we learn that with the little information we have so far, taxpayers will have to cough up 2 and a half times that amount for the hospital to have any chance of operating in the black. 

There are still many unknown numbers.  The VA Hospital has a construction price of $995M – has said their opening costs are $707M.  What are the openings costs of the UMC hospital and who is paying that?   What will happen with the governor refusing to accept Medicaid Expansion – since, under the provisions of the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement, Louisiana Children’s’ Medical Center has the right to withdraw from the deal if the state fails to maximize federal reimbursement.  And then there is the complete absurdity of approving this with 50 blank pages in the agreements.  How can anyone responsibly judge the economies of this deal?   Now – thousands of loyal and devoted state employees who care for the sick are set to lose their jobs and benefits with all of these unknowns?  

In my naivety – at the beginning of all of this, I believed common sense would prevail.  But that never happened.  The latest hope is with you, the Civil Service Commission, with your higher standard of responsibility to the citizens of Louisiana, and authority to ensure efficiency and economy in such transactions, that dedicated state employees will not lose their jobs until we know exactly what all of this truly entails. 

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Action! Tell the State Civil Service Commission not to reconsider their vote against Charity worker layoffs.


What happens when the Governor and LSU get a decision they don't like?  They ask for a redo ... of course.

Contact the Louisiana State Civil Service Commission.  Ask them to say NO to privatization and the layoffs!

Link to members  

At the State Civil Service Commission meeting - Wednesday June 5, 2013, commissioners voted against the Governor's privatization plans for 4 of 9 Charity Hospitals across Louisiana that would have prompted the layoffs of about 3000 employees.  In a 4 to 3 vote, commissioners bucked the rush to privatize, citing concerns with LSU's lack of transparency in providing complete information regarding the new cooperative endeavor agreements in order for them to arrive at a just and fair decision.

No sooner had the vote passed than Dr Michael Kaiser - Interim CEO of the LSU Health Care Services Division, replacing Dr. Roxane Townsend – requested a special meeting to ask the Commission to reconsider the vote. See the State Civil Service Commission circular and agenda here.

Dr. Kaiser stated that the complete cooperative endeavor agreements would be provided at the next meeting.  I imagine Dr. Kaiser and the Governor must have been awfully busy in the remaining days of last week working out the details of 4 separate agreements with the 4 new operators of the hospitals in question. It will be interesting to see what numbers emerge to replace the blanks in what are supposed to be legally binding contracts.

Really? A contract with 50 blank pages? The commission perhaps needed some specifics—like an offer and an acceptance and a termination clause?

Those opposed to the privatization deals presented evidence to commissioners on Wednesday that privatizations will actually cost more than keeping the hospitals public.  Even Jindal’s own administration admitted as much!

Opponents also pointed out that we have no certainty of the Federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS] approval to ensure Federal funding for whatever privatization Governor Jindal clearly desires.  If CMS cannot get answers from the State to concerns they have regarding the privatizations, any Medicaid money that has being allocated for Louisiana for next year will likely have to be paid back.

We are told that layoffs are not really layoffs but simply a formality necessary in order for workers to transfer over to a private employer and, that as long as workers have a good work history, they have nothing to worry about.  This commission knows that workers are not always dismissed because of their employment record, but because of the relationship they have with their supervisor.

The Governor has gained a reputation for punishing those who stand in his way:

“The governor doesn’t tolerate dissent,” said Dr. Roxane Townsend, who headed LSU’s South Louisiana hospitals until her ouster in September. “They knew I wouldn’t spew the party line.” 

Would workers that have spoken out against Jindal be prey to the same fate?  That is something the State Civil Service Commission will have to determine on Monday. 

Governor Jindal proclaimed Wednesday, May 8, 2013, as Employee Recognition Day in Louisiana. Quoting Shannon Templet - the director of SCS: SCS would like to thank all Louisiana state employees for their dedicated service. To us, every day should be employee recognition day!”

We agree!!!

Any decision that is made must guarantee that all workers are able to transfer back to a job with the equivalent - or better - wages and benefits that they are receiving now.

See below for what actions you can take to protect equitable and affordable access to healthcare in Louisiana and protect worker’s jobs!

 

 

First, LSU, DHH and the Jindal administration sought the layoffs of workers of Baton Rouge’s Charity hospital, the

 

Earl K. Long Medical Center

NOW LAYOFFS OF CHARITY HOSPITAL WORKERS ARE SOUGHT FROM

Leonard J. Chabert Regional Medical Center – Houma
University Medical Center – Lafayette
W.O. Moss Regional Medical Center – Lake Charles
LSU Interim Hospital – New Orleans

Capitalizing on a Federal Medical Assistance Percentage rate cut, the Jindal administration has sought to dismantle Louisiana’s Charity hospitals. Thousands of State Civil Service employees face layoff and the loss of earned benefits – even with the admission that it will CO$T HUNDREDS OF MILLION$ MORE to provide vital safety net health services thru privatization.

Stand in Solidarity with Public Health Workers!

Defend Louisiana’s Public Option – The Charity Hospital system!

Attend the Special Meeting of the State Civil Service Commission

Monday June 10, 2013 at 8:00am

(Please arrive by 7:30am for public comment registration)

Louisiana Purchase Room / Claiborne Building / 1201 N. 3rd St. Baton Rouge

Link to members of the Louisiana State Civil Service Commission.

Contact them and say NO to privatization and the layoffs!

More information:

ADVOCATES FOR LOUISIANA PUBLIC HEALTHCARE: PO BOX 71221, NEW ORLEANS 70172 (504) 269-4951 /http://www.defendlapublichealthcare.wordpress.com

 

 

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Update: Civil Service Commission votes no on Charity Hospital layoffs!

At the State Civil Service Commission today - Wednesday June 5, 2013, commissioners voted against the Governor's privatization plans for 4 of  9 Charity Hospitals across Louisiana that would have prompted the layoffs of about 3000 employees.  [See the original notice below].  In a 4 to 3 vote, commissioners bucked the rush to privatize, citing concerns with LSU's lack of transparency in providing complete information in order for them to arrive at a just and fair decision.

No sooner had the vote passed when the State Civil Service released a circular calling for a special meeting to reconsider the vote opposing the incomplete cooperative endevour agreements for privatization.

Dr. Michael Kaiser, chief executive officer of the LSU Health Care Services Division stated that teh cooperative endevor agreements will be provided at the next meeting.  If they can be provided at the next meeting, why were they not provided today?  

Stay tuned for more details about today's proceedings and actions you can take to protect equitable and affordable access to healthcare in Louisiana!

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Save Charity Hospital would like to bring the following event to your attention.

 

 

First, LSU, DHH and the Jindal administration sought the layoffs of workers of Baton Rouge’s Charity hospital, the
 

Earl K. Long Medical Center

NOW LAYOFFS OF CHARITY HOSPITAL WORKERS ARE SOUGHT FROM

 

Leonard J. Chabert Regional Medical Center – Houma
University Medical Center – Lafayette
W.O. Moss Regional Medical Center – Lake Charles
LSU Interim Hospital – New Orleans

Capitalizing on a Federal Medical Assistance Percentage rate cut, the Jindal administration has sought to dismantle Louisiana’s Charity hospitals. Thousands of State Civil Service employees face layoff and the loss of earned benefits – even with the admission that it will CO$T HUNDREDS OF MILLION$ MORE to provide vital safety net health services thru privatization.

Stand in Solidarity with Public Health Workers!

Defend Louisiana’s Public Option – The Charity Hospital system!

Attend the State Civil Service Commission General Business Meeting

Wednesday June 5, 2013 at 9:00am

(Please arrive by 8:30am for public comment registration)

Louisiana Purchase Room / Claiborne Building / 1201 N. 3rd St. Baton Rouge

Link to members of the Louisiana State Civil Service Commission.

Contact them and say NO to privatization and the layoffs!

More information:

ADVOCATES FOR LOUISIANA PUBLIC HEALTHCARE: PO BOX 71221, NEW ORLEANS 70172 (504) 269-4951 /http://www.defendlapublichealthcare.wordpress.com

Download the Stand in Solidarity with Public Health Workers flyer HERE.

 

Has Obama been swindled?

UPDATED:
 
This article popped up in the news today.
 


Regarding Charity, there are many glaring inaccuracies.

The article states that: "Damage from Katrina closed Charity Hospital "

The article states: "The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated that repairing the structure would cost $23.9 million, but the university countered that it would cost $257 million. This led the university to propose building a new facility rather than renovating the old one."

 
In fact, LSU wanted $476 million dollars because, they claimed, Charity was more than 51% damaged.
 
Charity was NOT more than 51% damaged.

FEMA was correct in not offering the half billion LSU wanted for the lower midcity hospital. The hospital was cleaned out and ready to open in September of 2005 as evidenced by photos on our website and testimony from medical and military staff who were in the hospital at the time and cleaned it out. 

Roberta Gratz' does a terrific job outlining this injustice in her Nation article - Why Was New Orleans's Charity Hospital Allowed to Die?

Charity Hospital appeared trashed sometime after that to make it look 51% damaged in the photos and videos LSU used to support their claim.

Mary Landrieu set up the arbitration panel that potentially defrauded the federal government out of half a billion dollars by disallowing witnesses for State FEMA from testifying at the hearing. Flights to fly in witnesses were deamed too costly and offers from advocates to reopen Charity Hospital to fly them in were refused.


Tax payers and the Federal Government spent this enormous amount of money so that LSU could demolish an historic neighborhood in the name of building a public hospital that was to restore full services and programs that Big Charity offered.
Pre-arbitration, LSU had all the money they needed in State Capital outlay dollars and the original offer from FEMA to fully gut and reopen the original 1939 art deco historic building.

Today, the State can not show that the new UMC academic medical building, now under construction, has a commitment for full funding. The hospital has been leased to the Louisiana Children's Medical Center corporation [LCMC] who will operate it while LSU will create private/public partnerships with other private hospitals and institutions to house their patients.  Residents will follow the patients for training.  The LCMC will become sole member of the supposedly public UMC Board.  

This calls into question why the new UMC academic medical center is being built at all and whether or not it's new purpose - that could ostensibly mean it will house a private hospital - is permitted under the eminent domain laws used to take hundreds of properties, many of them historic homes that were rebuild by their loving occupants after Katrina with road home money.

Will  these injustices go forever unnoticed by the Federal Government and tax payers who may have been robbed?

There are so many questions.


 

Jindal killed the sacred cow‏

On Monday December 10, 2012 Bobby Jindal effectively put a fork in the sacred cow - known as the Charity Hospital System - that developed over a more than 270 year period.

Jindal, long  a proponent of privatizing everything within view, took advantage of a recent federal reduction in Medicaid dollars to the State, as an excuse to unnecessarily turbocharge his mission.  The term is opportunistic.

Hmmm, taking advantage of a disaster as an opportunity to push through politically unpopular policy.  Where have we seen this before?  No one can forget how the State and LSU used Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to shutter the existing building when it was ready to go back into operation three weeks after the storm.

In New Orleans, as of last Monday, Jindal's privatization mission is just steps away from turning our single payer safety-net hospital over to a Louisiana Children's Medical Center [LCMC] - a non-profit corporation- effectively transforming a sacred cow into a cash cow to be milked by a non-transparent and non-accountable entity as stated in an MOU signed by:  "LSU Board of Supervisors, Louisiana Children’s Medical Center and others relating to the future operation of the Interim Louisiana Hospital and, upon its completion, the new University Medical Center in New Orleans."

The MOU specifically states:

Jindal's rubber-stampers, otherwise known as the LSU Board of Supervisors, will bless this MOU [and two other Charity System hospitals] at a special meeting December 14, 2012 at 10:00 am.

Another interesting paragraph in the MOU gives us over here at SaveCharityHospital.com pause.

Is this a sign that Mr. Jindal will be obligated to accept the Federal Medicaid Reimbursement?  If so, will the real Mr. Jindal please stand up?

Meanwhile... back at the UMC construction site.... with patients and residents farmed out to other private providers and institutions, what the heck is that suburban monstrosity going up in Lower MidCity for? 

Perhaps the best answer to date lies with LSU Health Science Center Chancellor Larry Hollier - the only Charity Hospital official not fired or demoted by the Governor; or ....retired.  WWLTV reported on June 10th, 2011 in the following interview:

""They're missing the point," said Larry Hollier, MD, chancellor of the LSU Health Science Center. "This is not trying to build a community hospital. This is trying to build a destination hospital like UAB in Birmingham, like MD Anderson in Houston.""

A destination Hospital that will be leased to a private corporation with no accountability to report on their promise that any surpluses resulting from this Private Public Partnership will be invested back into the UMC Hospital.

Is BioDistrict New Orleans - ostensibly a boundary line with a little more than $12 000 dollars in it's bank account - encompassing 1500 acres of mostly MidCity, Gert Town and Zion City - ready to compete with Houston and Birmingham?  More than one article suggests that New Orleans may have already missed that opportunity boat.

Tight State Funds Hamper Development of New Orleans

Perhaps more clarity surrounding the plethora of questions circulating in the mediasphere will be answered this Thursday, December 13 when all eyes will be on what may be one of the last public meetings of the UMCMC board if this MOU is passed as it is currently written.

Agenda pending.

Details:
3PM
LSU Health Sciences CenterLions Clinic Building,
2020 Gravier Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
Isadore Cohn Student Learning Center,
6th Floor.

Follow us on twitter
@charityhospital

 

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."

 

 

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