Monday, May 11, 2009

Starving for health care and jobs

Our legislature has rubber stamped this LSU/VA proposal every step of the way but doesn't even know what it's getting - or in this case - not getting.

$1.2 billion for a measly soup and salad?

If you click there, you'll find another link to the T-P's rendering of the still-unfunded "phase one" and an even more mythical "phase two" that doesn't even have a cost estimate attached to it.


jeffrey said...

Just curious. Why does the Save Charity site not allow comments?

E said...

It's an informational/advocacy site not a discussion forum. Comments can be submitted for consideration in posts. Kinda like TPM or the Atlantic's comment policy.

Puddinhead said...

Because they're not particularly interested in your opinion, Jeffrey, just in case you are able to make the logical disconnect between what are really two separate issues--the future of health care for those in our community without insurance, and the future of the 70-year-old building that was the SIXTH home of Charity Hospital New Orleans, built (as were each of it's predecessors in turn) as the previous Charity building had become obsolete. In reality the win-win situation is a new modern home for Charity, the seventh different building to house the hospital, designed to serve both the "indigent" (in the vernacular in use for much of Charity's history) and those whose access to insurance offers them choices and a smart, historically sensitive redevelopment of the 1939 building with a residential/retail focus.

It's to their credit that the Charity staff were able to offer such amazing emergency care housed in what had essentially become a ghetto of a medical facility. It's to our (as a community) shame that we expected our poorer neighbors to get their medical care where no one who could possibly afford to do otherwise would go.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Not only does the future of health care for the indigent patient population not necessarily have to do with that building (well before 2005 LSU and anyone else with any sense could see the handwriting on the wall that the health care was changing and that the Charity Hospital of tradition was a dinosaur not unlike a lot of the types of things that New Orleans residents have been a lot slower than people in other places to move away from) but also the complete lack of a logic connection between the new hospital project not being built and the Charity Hospital building necessarily having to be re-established as the main medical center. Who, between the governor, the more powerful legislators, the LSU Board of Supervisors whose property the building still is and other state leader of note, elected and otherwise, really, really wants to do that? Even Blanco supported the new hospital project (before 8/29/2005) and now there's Jindal who as a Republican certainly would hardly appear to be one who would want to re-establish everything to the status quo of, say, the 1950's, when the building and its usage were in their heyday.

E said...

I disagree with this assertion that just because LSU was looking at a new facility before the storm that that justifies the proposal they've put on the table after the storm. The reason a brand new site was the only option before the storm was that the city couldn't afford to lose the beds and the care capacity during a rennovation. Old Charity would have stayed in operation while a new facility was built. Since LSU refused to reopen Charity after the storm, there are no patients there that would be displaced by a rennovation process. That's what has made that option tenable.

Puddinhead said...

I've never really quite grasped the base reasons behind the whole "Save Charity" movement...meaning the "State run indigent care must be offered inside the 1939 Charity Hospital building and nowhere else" movement. Supporters of that position don't strike me as being particularly "traditionalist", so I don't think it's "because it's always been done that way".

Is it a fear that if the teaching hospital/indigent care were located somewhere else that the 1939 building would then be demolished? This would be the angle I could see the Walter Gallas crowd possibly coming from...but I don't think I've heard anyone from any front even hint at a possibility of demolition. In fact, although there are admittedly no concrete plans on hand, all I've heard from the State has been their desire to see adaptive reuse of the old building, which is the same thing I've heard from entities like the DDD.

Maybe it's a need to feel like the crusading advocate rescuing a historic neighborhood from the wreaking ball...although having spent time in that area both pre- and post-Katrina, I think that both "historic" and "neighborhood" are stretching the point. But it's all in the packaging, and so the Tulane/Gravier business district becomes the "Lower Mid-City Historic Neighborhood". Incidently, Tulane/Gravier was the location of the family doctor of my childhood's office...before that building was abandoned about the time I moved into early adulthood, like so much else in that area. There's a smattering of houses in the site that are occupied and that have interesting architectural features...but they're not features that aren't replicated thousands of times over in many "viable" NOLA neighborhoods. And, truth be told, most of those are in the section north of Galvez, which is the VA, not LSU, site. Yet the beef is apparently not with the VA hospital, but with the LSU hospital.

Anyway, that's all speculation on my part. I really would like to understand just why Charity Hospital absolutely positively HAS to be housed in the old building in so many minds. And not "They lied about the damage", like the Truth Police have to have their vengence, or "It will cost more money", as though "costing more" would ever be accepted as a legitimate reason not to do other projects they might support like building new schools or playgrounds. No, I want to know the base reason why in New Orleans it would only be acceptable for the poor to get medical care by stepping through the doors of a seventy-year-old facility.

Anonymous said...

Another thing to understand is that when the 1939 building was in its heyday people were treated in large-scale wards and around such concepts is how the building is designed. The "Save Charity" enthusiasts probably underestimate all of the difficulties involved in making the building into a completely up-to-date medical facility by several orders of magnitude. Cheaper than a completely new building? Perhaps so but enormously costly and time-consuming at the same time.