In 2009, the Urban Conservancy joined the Foundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL) and 77 other organizations in supporting an independent study of the proposed $1.2 billion LSU medical complex.
The resulting study presented alternatives for delivering cost-efficient health care in New Orleans that would not require sacrificing a historic homes and businesses. Despite the findings, the medical site remained at it original location in Lower Mid-City, hundreds of homes were demolished, and 100 were moved.
Most of those that were moved have fallen into disrepair.
The Urban Conservancy continues to monitor the medical complex project. Construction on LSU-VA medical complex moves forward with projected completion dates by 2016, as financial questions linger and trends in healthcare shift to less, not more, inpatient facilities.
November 24, 2012: In his in-depth article ( The Times-Picayune ) titled “Program to move homes from LSU-VA hospital site, rehab them, remains in disarray” journalist Richard A. Webster describes the failed attempt to move historic homes out of the footprint of the LSU-VA hospital footprint. See land use attorney William Borah’s response, “Travesty continues as Charity sits empty” published in the Letters to the Editors section of The Times-Picyaune on December 1, 2012.
Read also The Urban Conservancy’s 3/2/10 editorial “LSU/VALSU VA Hospital-Too Big To Fail? Hospital Proposal: Too Big to Fail?”
Access other stories in the News Roundup archives of the UC website covering various stages of the LSU/VA project.
On November 18, 2009, the Louisiana Commission on Streamlining Government spearheaded by State Treasurer John Kennedy, by a vote of 7-3, passed a motion seeking an independent study of the proposed $1.2 billion LSU medical complex and alternatives for delivering the cost efficient health care in New Orleans.
For the two years prior, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL) and most recently 77 other organizations including The Urban Conservancy have sought such a study. The National Trust for Historic Preservation placed Big Charity on its 11 Most Endangered List in America in 2008.
“This study seeks to determine what is the fastest and cheapest way to get health care back to the people of New Orleans,” said Sandra Stokes, executive vice president of the FHL. “It will kick-start the economy, save a neighborhood, and get the bio-sciences corridor going,” she added.
The Urban Conservancy supports an in-depth study of alternatives to building on the current site, which calls for the expropriation and demolition of private residential and commercial properties — many of them historic–in Lower Mid-City to make way for a sprawling new medical center campus.
The motion in the Commission, offered by State Senator Jack Donahue (R – Mandeville), would also require an independent evaluation of the business model guiding LSU’s plan for a new hospital. The motion seeks a study of a new hospital, the use of Charity gutted and renovated, and other alternatives.
Even after testimony from LSU Health Sciences Center Chancellor Dr. Larry Hollier, Director of Facility Planning and Control Jerry Jones, LSU Vice President of Health Affairs Dr. Fred Cerise, and DHH Secretary Alan Levine urging the commission to reject the motion, members of the Commission were ultimately persuaded to call for the independent analysis.
The advocates speaking for the rehabilitation of Charity Hospital were Stokes, Jack Davis, a Trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Steve McDaniel, principal in charge of FHL’s commissioned study by RMJM, who is now a principal at Perkins+Will.
“We commend the Streamlining Commission for taking the responsibility and initiative to look for viable solutions that are faster and cheaper,” added Stokes.
In 2006 the State Legislature passed a resolution asking FHL to assess the landmark and its potential for use as a hospital. FHL raised over $600,000 in private donations to commission the feasibility analysis and report. FHL is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization chartered in 1965. One of its missions is economic development through preservation.
Visit: www.savecharityhospital.org and www.DoctorsforCharity.com, and www.fhl.org