Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mayor: Any talk of retrofitting Charity is "bad"

Like an eighth grader getting upset at anyone who disagrees with him, the Mayor, last evening, labeled any talk of going back into Charity Hospital as plain old "bad." Despite a $600,000 study that says it can be done, it's bad because the Mayor says so.  I'm not really seeing any other reasons laid out:

"Anything that slows it down is bad, anything that continues to talk about, you know, a new hospital in the old Charity Hospital building is bad. I would ask people to stay focused on the thing that's in front of us which is building a brand transformative, economic development engine that surrounds medical care and economics," Landrieu said.

Well, I guess the letter from the National Trust that went out to legislators late last week suggesting that the Charity option be looked at anew given the continued uncertainty surrounding the UMC...must've been a really "bad" development.  I guess the 11,000 petitions signed by citizens of New Orleans calling for the adaptive reuse of Charity to create a modern hospital facility are all "bad" too.  So is the continued push for greater legislative oversight over the project to ensure that taxpayers aren't saddled with a boondoggle for decades to come.  Just terribly, horribly bad.

The Mayor's statement also employs the same fallacy that we've seen over and over again during this fight - that somehow the notion of rebuilding in Charity is mutually exclusive with having a 21st Century, state of the art hospital facility.  Just as he does on preservation and public safety, the Mayor creates a false choice and then vilifies anyone who doesn't support his selected approach.  It's a really unhealthy tactic - especially when simply willing the hospital forward, blinders on, ultimately has to be reconciled with the reality of a continued lack of adequate financing and a business plan, as well as the potentially crippling state subsidy rates. As I've noted, it seems the Mayor has his eyes set on the Charity complex for city use.  But it does seem strange for him to be so vocally opposed to the consideration of a less expensive option that would bring healthcare back online more quickly.

If the mayor didn't want the return of healthcare slowed down - his comments show he's likely far more concerned about the development dollars - he would have insisted that the UMC go in Charity back when he took office...before the destruction of the UMC site had begun.

The Mayor's comments also tend to confirm my suspicions - that he was likely dead-set against going into Charity at the Monday meeting with Governor Jindal.

And now Bobby Yarborough from the UMC Board has joined the chorus trying to shut down the idea of going back into Charity..."It is very apparent from the board that the idea of going back to Old Charity is completely off the table. We have moved away from this option," said Yarborough.

But I thought the governor just commanded the UMC Board to look at all possible alternatives and options?

Nothing should be off the table at this point.  And rebuilding in Charity is the one plan that has actually been thoroughly studied.  It could be done now with the funding the state currently has onhand.

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