Louisiana physicians will have another place to work in a few years as construction gets started in the middle of June on the new $1.2 billion University Medical Center in New Orleans. That's almost a year to the day that a June 25, 2010, groundbreaking ceremony was held nearby for the new $995 million Veterans Affairs Department hospital.
Not quiet in the Big Easy
Like the VA Hospital, the University Medical Center has had its share of holdups with the latest being a decision to move rather than demolish a historic old school building located in the construction zone. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, this will add $3 million to the cost of the project. One of the reasons, the newspaper reports, is because a $3 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was already spent to restore the building, which reopened for the 2008 school year and has been unused since the state took it over.
Designed to replace the city's old Charity Hospital, the new facility will have 424 beds, which is down from the previously reported 484-bed figure. New York-based Skanska US will be working Louisiana contractor MAPP Construction—along with nearly 100 local subcontractors—on the project, which was designed by NBBJ architects.
Though that may be the biggest healthcare happening in the Crescent City, another local news item that didn't make it into national reports was the appointment of Dr. Karen DeSalvo, vice dean of community affairs and healthcare policy at Tulane University School of Medicine, as city health commissioner and as Mayor Mitch Landrieu's senior health policy adviser.
DeSalvo, whose one-year term began Jan. 18, was featured in a Modern Healthcare article last year on hospitals developing outpatient practices as medical homes. DeSalvo has been one of the leaders behind the development of some 89 new primary-care facilities that opened in the five years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. Last time I was able to get a count, 42 of those facilities had been formally recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as patient-centered medical homes.
In other New Orleans-related news, New Orleans native Percy Allen II was just inducted into the Modern Healthcare Health Care Hall of Fame. And, in Hurricane Katrina-related news, Tenet Healthcare Corp. settled a class-action lawsuit regarding patient deaths at its former Memorial Medical Center after the hurricane.
Though it appears the city's healthcare system is on the upswing, problems persist, and this month Tulane Medical Center notified 360 patients that they had been potentially exposed to infectious diseases when gastrointestinal scoping equipment used last fall had not been properly sanitized.
At the very least, this will all give the attendees at the American College of Cardiology's 60th annual scientific session something to talk about when they meet in New Orleans April 2-5.
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