New Orleans hospitals still recovering from Katrina

Five years after Hurricane Katrina barreled its way through New Orleans, flooding hospitals, the healthcare industry has yet to recover, WAPT reports.

More than 80,000 residents in eastern New Orleans still face a 30-minute drive to an emergency room, Mayor Mitch Landrieu told the Times Picayune. Last Friday, however, the city took a step toward restoring full healthcare services in the underserved area when it purchased the former Methodist Hospital from Universal Health Services for $16 million.

After the closure Big Charity Hospital, which served as the medical home for the city's poor and uninsured residents, patients were shunted to Interim LSU Public Hospital, a Level I trauma center, which is smaller and offers fewer medical services, WAPT reports. Although 80 percent of the population returned, LSU has half the 550 beds it had before Katrina, LSU Health Care VP Dr. Fred Cerise told WAPT.

Meanwhile, after four years of skirmishes between the state, LSU, and Tulane University, groundbreaking for a new teaching hospital is scheduled to occur by the end of the year, the Times-Picayune reports. And the LSU-VA hospital project in Mid-City is progressing.

Dr. Corey Hebert, WDSU medical editor, says they could do a lot better. "What we must do is start taking better care of ourselves," he said, "so we don't burden the already crippled three-legged system we have now."

To learn more:
- here's the Times-Picayune story on the purchase of a hospital in eastern New Orleans
- here's another on skirmishes associated with the new teaching hospital

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