University Hospital, New Orleans, reopened with 85 beds and 14 operating rooms after having been shuttered since Hurricane Katrina hit the area last fall. The hospital previously operated with about 200 beds. Charity Hospital, its partner facility, which staffed more than 300 beds, also closed because of damage from the hurricane and is not scheduled to reopen. A spokeswoman for the hospitals parent organization, the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans, said University expects to reach its goal of staffing 150 beds in fairly short order. The lower bed count reflects a nursing shortage in the area, she said. The reopening also included the emergency room and intensive-care unit.
The next step will be to transfer a 40-bed trauma center operating at Elmwood Medical Center in Jefferson Parish to University by early January, said Danny Mahaffey, director of facility planning at the Louisiana State University system. Mahaffey said the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has funded the $64 million in repairs at University, is requiring that the hospital be called LSU Interim Hospital until it is larger and has a trauma center. LSU has asked for $300 million in federal grants to build a new hospital in partnership with the Veterans Affairs Department and expects an answer by mid-December, Mahaffey said. -- by Jessica Zigmond