Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater and Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein joined health care and higher education leaders Monday to break ground on the new University Medical Center in New Orleans, a $1.2 billion teaching hospital that will improve health care across the state and create hundreds of jobs in the area.
Commissioner Rainwater said, "This groundbreaking is the culmination of years of hard work by state and local leaders to secure the funding to build a world class medical teaching facility worthy of the next generation of Louisiana's medical professionals and the thousands of community members they will treat. By investing more than $1 billion in this massive construction project, the Jindal administration is committing to improving the overall health care of our region and investing in the City of New Orleans as it continues its march toward a full recovery and resurgence."
Secretary Greenstein said, "This is an important day for Louisiana. On this site, we will develop a world-class academic medical center that will train future generations of health care professionals and serve as a destination hospital, not only for the New Orleans region, but for the entire state and beyond. While there has been so much incredible work that has brought us to this point, in many ways today is just the beginning. I am committed to working with all of our partners to ensure that when we stand here in a few years cutting ribbons, we have delivered a facility that is nothing short of what our state expects and deserve for this investment."
University Medical Center Management Corporation Chairman Robert Yarborough said "The University Medical Center is of critical importance to the New Orleans region in particular and Louisiana as a whole. It will play a vital role in healthcare, education and research and will be a dynamic economic engine, generating jobs and growth, making Louisiana a healthcare destination."
Strategically positioned to share facilities, services and innovation with the nearby Veterans Administration Medical Center, which broke ground last year, the University Medical Center will occupy 37 acres in the Biosciences District, bounded by Canal Street, South Galvez Street, Tulane Avenue and South Claiborne Avenue. The UMC hospital will act as a Level I Trauma Center to provide critical care for the region's most severely injured patients.
As a premier academic medical center, the facility also will include an integrated approach to outpatient and inpatient treatment services. Secretary Greenstein has been tapped to help finalize the final bed count, service line and academic and research focuses of the hospital. In contrast to the former Charity Hospital, the UMC hospital will be smaller, but most importantly, a place where all residents in Louisiana and the region can receive the highest quality care and that competes with some of the most prestigious research hospitals in the country for advanced research funding sources, such as the National Institutes of Health.
The combined UMC and VA medical centers and related BioDistrict private investment are expected to generate $9.6 billion in personal earnings over the next 20 years and create more than 17,000 total jobs in the New Orleans metropolitan area.
The $1.2 billion UMC hospital project will be funded using a mix of state and federal funds, including $300.6 million in state capital outlay dollars, $435.3 million in FEMA funds awarded to the state by a federal arbitration panel, thanks to the insistence by Gov. Bobby Jindals' administration that the federal agency had drastically underestimated the replacement cost of the former Charity Hospital and another $194.5 million anticipated from an additional FEMA settlement.
The state controls the majority of the UMC site, with final site preparation beginning this summer and construction slated to finish in August of 2014, with a phased move in starting in the fall 2014 and full occupancy slated for spring 2015.
As the hospital will serve a critical response role in the event of a disaster in the region, the University Medical Center will be constructed more than 20 feet above sea level, with the hospital building itself able to withstand a Category Three hurricane, thanks to poured-in-place reinforced concrete structures. Featuring redundant primary power and emergency electrical back up power, the facility will be able to function for a week without outside support.
The urban campus of the UMC will feature a total of 2,673 parking spaces, provided through a mix of parking lots and a parking garage. The state also is studying the potential of commercial buildings lining the Canal Street side of the development.
Louisiana elected officials and health care leaders lauded the groundbreaking as a critical moment in New Orleans' recovery and for the future of health care in Louisiana and the surrounding region.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, "The University Medical Center and adjacent VA hospital are critical to the rebirth of our city and will be a symbol of our resurrection. The entire biomedical corridor will provide high-quality healthcare for our citizens and will build our economic strength by creating thousands of diverse, good-paying jobs in cutting edge fields for our residents."
United States Congressman Cedric Richmond said, "Today's groundbreaking is about bringing new medical innovation to our area and ushering in a new healthcare economy to the region," said Congressman Cedric L. Richmond. "The development of this hospital is long overdue. It will bring cutting edge care, meaningful new jobs, and an expanded industry to town. I welcome the hospital to the New Orleans."
The University Medical Center is governed by a non-profit organization run by an eleven-member board of directors with permanent representatives from LSU, Tulane and Xavier Universities and rotating representatives from Dillard University, Delgado Community College and Southern University. The final four board seats would go to individuals not affiliated in any way with the permanent member organizations of the board.
Dr. Fred Cerise, LSU System Vice President for Health Affairs and Medical Education said, "With the largest healthcare training program in Louisiana, LSU is happy to see the construction of University Medical Center begin. This world-class institution will allow us to retain and attract top students to train in an environment of the first magnitude which will ensure a stable production of high quality healthcare providers to care for all Louisiana citizens."
Tulane University President Scott Cowen said, "This groundbreaking marks an important milestone in the efforts of the city's universities to establish, in partnership with the state, an exemplary and financially sustainable 21st century medical center that meets the needs of our citizens and allows the region to become a vibrant and strong biosciences hub."
Higher education institutions across the region will rely on the University Medical Center as a unique training ground for medical students, interns, residents and fellows, including Louisiana State University, Tulane University, Xavier University, Dillard University, Southern University at New Orleans the Delgado Community College. Higher education officials cheered Monday's groundbreaking. The UMC's large research capacity is expected to attract first-rate researchers, grant funding and medical residents.
Image courtesy of the LSU Medical Center.
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