SaveCharityHospital.com, along with 26 other community organizations, sponsored a great event on Tuesday evening that featured brief remarks by State Treasurer John Kennedy and a great deal of input and engagement from citizens.
Here's one of the key things to keep in mind: despite Governor Bobby Jindal telling the UMC Board weeks ago to look at and consider all options for making a more sustainable UMC that will cash flow, the state has continued to destroy its way forward in the UMC Footprint.
LSU and the state were out in Kenner yesterday with their dog and pony show, pitching the supposed economic lucre that will flow from the UMC project, even though the project STILL HAS NO BUSINESS PLAN! IT STILL DOES NOT HAVE ADEQUATE FINANCING! No matter how much proponents try to distract everyone from the underlying realities, it's not possible to simply imagine and desire a hospital into being.
Fortunately, Treasurer Kennedy, voice of reason that he is, presented some of these stark realities for all gathered on Tuesday evening. And people asked some great, provocative questions, too.
Like...whether the transfer of scores of expropriated properties in the UMC Footprint to the UMC Board, a private non-profit corporation, is even legal under the state's constitution. Like...whether anyone who lives in the BioDistrict even know that it exists, much less that they live within its bounds (or that it's intimately connected to the LSU/VA project). Like...what LSU and state leaders told Kennedy when he asked why they shuttered Charity after Katrina (Kennedy answered that they told him they wouldn't get their new hospital if the building reopened).
What are people supposed to do to influence the process for the better? In his words, WRITE EMAIL CALL your public officials. And keep doing it over and over again.
Kennedy also made it clear that constructing a too-large 424-bed UMC, as proposed, will flood the local market for beds to the extent that it will hurt the viability of the promised Methodist hospital in The East here in the New Orleans metro region.
Strangely, Kennedy was very non-committal on the idea of going back into Charity. While he repeatedly mentioned the prospect of a 250-bed facility reconstituted in the existing Charity shell, he kept saying that he didn't know if Charity could be renovated and made into a modern facility. IT CAN! We know that it can because a major study has been done that shows it can be done.
Kennedy is right to continue noting that the state and UMC Board, in cahoots with LSU, have suppressed talk of any other option than the one option put forward. And that's extremely unhealthy. So Kennedy is at least forcefully supportive of making the UMC Board consider the idea in full - something it has refused to do to this point.
Instead, destruction continues in the UMC Footprint. And one has to wonder whether all the sound and fury about considering other plans is just that - sound and fury signifying nothing. When the state's base and reprehensible actions are actually assessed, you see that the story hasn't much changed. Jerry Jones says he's going to keep destroying until someone makes him stop. The fix is in.
But we're not giving up. Contact the members of the UMC Board and tell them to stop the destruction in the UMC Footprint until the business plan is in place, until the studies are done. Strangely, the UMC Board has cancelled its next regularly scheduled meeting set for Aug. 4...hmmm...how convenient...just as public scrutiny picks up once again.
Contact UMC Board Chairman Bobby Yarborough and tell him the destruction of the UMC site needs to stop until a business plan and full financing is in place: