Charity Hospital (New Orleans)
Charity Hospital was one of two teaching hospitals which were part of the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans (MCLNO), the other being University Hospital. The history of this hospital goes back to 1736 and peaked under the governorship of Huey P. Long. Three weeks after the events of Hurricane Katrina, then Governor Kathleen Blanco said that Charity Hospital would not reopen as a functioning hospital. The Louisiana State University System, which owns the building, stated that it had no plans to reopen the hospital in its original location. It chose to incorporate Charity Hospital into the city's new medical center in the lower Mid-City neighborhood. The new hospital completed in August 2015 was named University Medical Center New Orleans. Beginning January 2017, the building will be cleaned out, with rumors of it being demolished. Efforts are still underway to save the building.
Backstory and Context
Like its sister hospital, University Hospital, Charity Hospital sustained severe flood damage during Hurricane Katrina. The evacuation of patients from the flooded hospital made national headlines. After the storm, a temporary clinic named the Spirit of Charity was established at the Convention Center. The temporary Spirit of Charity Clinic was later relocated to the New Orleans Centre building adjacent to the Superdome. In February 2007, a renovated University Hospital had taken over interim responsibilities of emergency care to the city which Charity originally provided. In August 2015, the LSU Health Sciences Center completed the new $1.1 billion medical center named University Medical Center New Orleans. The hospital consolidated the functions of both the already closed Charity Hospital and University Hospital.
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana, as charged in HCR 89 of the 2006 Louisiana Legislature, hired the internationally renowned architectural firm, RMJM Hillier examine and evaluate if the building was worth saving, renovating. RMJM Hillier determined the art deco building to be structurally sound—with its original design being architecturally exceptional and “ahead of its time.” Rehabilitation into a 21st-century, state-of-the-art facility would be the fastest, most cost-effective way to return quality healthcare and a teaching hospital to New Orleans. This idea was scrubbed in favor of using University Hospital as an interim hospital and building University Medical Center New Orleans and a new Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System Medical Center in the adjacent neighborhood of lower Mid-City.
September 3, 1859 Harper's Weekly article titled The New Orleans Charity Hospital on pages 569 and 570.
Long established the LSU School of Medicine after the adjacent Tulane University School of Medicine demonstrated its independence from the governor's control. See Alton Ochsner.
Caroline R. Courtney & Hira Rashid, “Building Charity Hospital, Architect Leon Weiss,” New Orleans Historical, accessed February 5, 2017,http://neworleanshistorical.org/items/show/272.