BATON ROUGE, La. – Eyewitness News anchor Eric Paulsen sat down with Governor Bobby Jindal Thursday in an exclusive one-on-one interview, covering the pressing issues the state faces today.
They discussed deals with the New Orleans Saints and Hornets, Charity Hospital and his own political future.
Despite a big push by preservationists to lobby the state and LSU to renovate the old Charity Hospital, rather than build a new teaching facility, Governor Bobby Jindal said he is firmly committed to a new building.
He spoke hours before a group of preservationists held a news conference Thursday afternoon, giving their reasons why renovation is a better option than building a new hospital.
The governor said he understands the importance of charity, but said the evidence points to a new teaching hospital as the best route if New Orleans is going to compete with medical complexes in Birmingham and Houston.
He said that renovating Charity is out of the picture.
“My commitment hasn’t changed. Our support hasn’t changed,” Jindal said, adding the only way they'd renovate is “if LSU were all of a sudden to come back and say, ‘you know what, we’ve talked to engineers, we’ve talked to architects, we think we can build a great, modern hospital within the old footprint.’”
“My point is this: I continue to support the fact that we need a modern hospital that is connected to the VA, that’s a home for not only patient care – which is absolutely critical – but graduate medical education and cutting-edge research,” Jindal said.
While supporters of a renovated Charity Hospital said it would save the state millions, LSU counters in other studies that, in the overall scope of the entire project, a new hospital adjacent to the new VA Hospital would save the state millions of dollars in the long run.
For the preservationists, the governor said do not worry, Charity is not going to be torn down.
“One of the things I’ve told LSU is they have to work with the state to come up with a beneficial use for that facility,” Jindal said. “And we’re certainly willing, I understand that that will require investment and dollars. It is too important of a facility historically and architecturally. It’s also such an impressively built facility – it’s not something we could build today.”
Right now, the biggest stumbling block to beginning work on the teaching hospital is a dispute with FEMA over how much the state is owed for the damage done to charity.
The feds have offered the state $150 milliion. The governor says Louisana is owed 492 million.
He says Louisiana is on firm legal ground and hopes the new administration will be more willing to release the money that is owed and get the medical complex rolling.
Jindal One-on-One: Saints deal to get done, old Charity won't be renovated
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Eric Paulsen / Eyewitness News