President Obama: VA Will Build Hospital Downtown

Just in case there was any lingering notion that by advocating for a smarter, cheaper, less destructive plan for new hospitals in New Orleans, one might be jeopardizing the VA hospital, President reiterated his commitment again during an appareance in New Orleans yesterday.


We remain committed to building a new VA medical center in downtown New Orleans so we can better serve and care for our veterans.


The only item left open to interpretation here is whether the President and the Department of Veterans Affaris might consider moving the VA Hospital to a site that is actually in downtown New Orleans and not on top of a residential community in Lower Mid-City.

We here at and others, including Eric Lolis Elie of the Times Picayune, have pointed out in numerous ways that the proposed site for the VAMC is not in downtown New Orleans. In fact, it seems indisputable that the proposed LSU/VA would actually move the medical district out of downtown, moving investment away from the already blighted northwest corner of the Central Business District.

Later in his comments, the President explained why it has been such a process to adjudicate disputes between the city, state, and federal government over what constitutes just compensation for hurricane-damaged buildings.


We are committed to working with the city and the state to make sure that we have world-class health facilities here in New Orleans. But what is also true is that there are all sorts of complications between the state, the city and the Feds in making assessments on the damages.


Though the President is clearly under pressure to simply rubber stamp requests for reimbursement by the state of Louisiana, he acknowledged the controversy surrounding this particular issue.

Charity Hospital, was not, as state officials have claimed, completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. We know that Charity Hospital remains standing, its structural integrity uncompromised. Only the basement of the building flooded after the failure of the federal levee system and it was pumped dry by a team of military and medical personnel within weeks of the storm. In fact, Charity Hospital was decontaminated to the point that it was ready to be reopened to accept patients less than a month after Hurricane Katrina. Photographs obtained by demonstrate the condition of the emergency room after this cleanup effort, when state officials locked the doors of the building in order to pursue a course which has misrepresented to the federal government the extent of the damages caused by Hurricane Katrina and the levee failure.