February 24, 2006
There were major developments affecting the Health Sciences Center this week. The biggest news is that the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Recovery Authority voted to allocate $50 million of a federal social services block grant for hurricane relief to LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. This bridge funding will support us through the end of the fiscal year. We are grateful to Governor Kathleen Blanco, Commissioner of Administration Jerry Luke LeBlanc, Bill Black, of the Division of Administration, the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, LRA Executive Director Andy Kopplin and the LRA Board of Directors, Dr. Mary Ella Sanders, Chair of the Public Health and Healthcare Committee, as well as Dr. Joseph Savoie, Commissioner of Higher Education for providing this critical support.
Months of meetings with senior regional Department of Veterans Affairs officials culminated yesterday in the signing of a memorandum of understanding between LSU and the Department of Veterans Affairs. We will work together to build new university and VA hospitals connected by a common physical plant, cafeteria and other shared services. As I began considering the future health landscape of New Orleans after Katrina, it seemed that an expanded partnership with the VA made perfect sense, particularly in light of our common needs and proximity. Details will be worked out over the coming months. These new teaching hospitals will meet long recognized needs of our health professions education and residency programs.
Also yesterday, the Carolinas MED-1 mobile hospital began treating patients on the LSUHSC campus. It rolled onto our Derbigny Street parking lot on the corner of South Claiborne and Gravier late Wednesday night. Carolinas MED-1 is a self-contained emergency department and consists of two 53-foot tractor-trailer rigs. It contains 7 general care beds, 4 critical care beds, 1 dental chair and a two-bed operating room. A 60-bed environmentally controlled tent area serves as inpatient holding. If necessary, the tent area capacity can be expanded to accommodate a total of 120 beds. This asset expands acute care capabilities with LSUHSC trauma, orthopaedic, general surgeons, and emergency medicine physicians, and dramatically increases the number of staffed hospital beds in the city at a most crucial time. The population of New Orleans is expected to swell to pre-Katrina levels during Mardi Gras. Deployed at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services, LSUHSC is fully supporting this joint Region I operation, including staffing by our faculty and residents. We have no doubt that lives will be saved, and LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans is proud to have played a role in making that happen. Our Emergency Management Team, Facilities, the Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, and the Healthcare Network worked miracles to pull this together on a moments notice.