Dan Fagan: Might be time to tear down Charity

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 08:07:07 AM. A dozen years ago, waters from Hurricane Katrina rushed into the basement of the iconic New Orleans Charity Hospital, crippling the facility and trapping approximately 360 patients and 1,200 staff
A dozen years ago, waters from Hurricane Katrina rushed into the basement of the iconic New Orleans Charity Hospital, crippling the facility and trapping approximately 360 patients and 1,200 staff members. Three weeks later, then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco announced Charity would never reopen as a hospital again. The closure cleared the way for money to build the nearby state-owned but privately-run University Medical Center. Charity was in bad shape before Katrina, and the storm provided the perfect excuse to shut her down permanently. Big Charity, as it has been called, is the birthplace of countless New Orleans area residents. Many returned over the years for lifesaving care. It’s also where residents said goodbye for the last time to dying family and friends. The 1 million-square-foot hospital was the dream of the flamboyant, shady and populist Gov. Huey P. Long. Long liked to dream big. When Charity opened on Tulane Avenue in 1939, it was the second-largest hospital in the nation. Long did not come up with the idea of a charity hospital. The first was built on the corner of Chartres and Bienville in 1718. As massive as “Big Charity” is in size, it’s even larger in the hearts of many residents. Big Charity may have played a more meaningful role in people’s lives than any other building in the city’s 300-year history. A panel from Charity Hospital In 2014, Mayor Mitch Landrieu proposed spending $300 million to relocate city and judicial offices to the Charity building. But the...Read more
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