Trojan has taken its "Pleasure Cart," which resembles a hot dog stand, to major cities including New York, D.C. and Boston, where it was initially greeted with resistance from the mayor. Recently it stopped in San Francisco and Los Angeles to provide a "tax day stimulation package."
A newly amended state House bill, advanced by the state House Natural Resources Committee today, would allow Children's Hospital to purchase the shuttered New Orleans Adolescent Hospital for $29 million. Children's agreed to lease the property in January but balked at the terms of the agreement, which required that it reopen NOAH as a child and adolescent psychiatric hospital. The amendment strips that requirement for the sale but requires that Children's expand mental health services on its main campus.
The bill puts an end to a dispute between Children's — which has been trying to buy the property for a number of years — and state Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans. Abramson, who represents the district that includes NOAH, wanted the property reopened as a children's and adolescent psychiatric hospital. But Children's hoped to use the NOAH site for additional ambulatory outpatient clinics, a surgical center, as well as new radiology and lab facilities, Children's marketing vice president Brian Landry said.
Children's Hospital met with Rep. Abramson and reached a compromise requiring that it provide expanded child mental health treatment, likely on its main campus adjacent to NOAH, Landry said. Under the newly amended bill Children's would not be required to reopen NOAH for children's and adolescent mental health services. The bill would, however, require that Children's expand mental health services, opening 16 new children's and adolescent beds, possibly on the hospital's main campus.
"We're very pleased with the bill," Landry said. He said the sale price for NOAH will be $29 million. The new bill also provides for $10 to $20 million in state capital outlay funding, which will likely help pay for the mental health expansion. "Children's plans to put $50 million to $60 million into the NOAH campus just in the next several years."
The bill also requires Children's to develop the following:
(1) Behavioral health care services for children under five years of age.
(2) Expansion of the Autism Center at Children's Hospital Campus.
(3) Expansion of the Audrey Hepburn Children at Risk Evaluation Center.
(4) Expansion of the Parenting Center related to mental health care.
Children's has long sought to purchase the property, adjacent to its main campus, to provide expanded treatment. But the hospital was unwilling to adhere strictly to the terms of the agreement, which, pursuant to a state law, would only allow the lease of the property if Children's reopened it as a psychiatric hospital. The new amendment replaces an Abramson-sponsored bill that would have offered the lease to Ochsner Health Systems if Children's refused to comply in full.
The law mandated that Children's sign the lease by Feb. 1, 2013, or relinquish its right of first refusal for the property. Children's signed the lease on Jan. 25, but Children's representatives later said they signed only to continue negotiations on a sale.
Abramson, who did not immediately return a request for comment, sent a press release on the amended bill.
(Press release after the jump)
Originally published 11:15 a.m. Updated with responses from Rep. Neil Abramson 3:30 p.m.
Children's Hospital is still interested in purchasing the shuttered New Orleans Adolescent Hospital (NOAH), but meeting demands that it be used only for psychiatric services — as mandated by a law passed last year — would be too expensive, Children's spokesman Brian Landry told the New Orleans City Council today. Landry's appearance before the City Council was a rebuttal to state Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, who announced last month that Children's had signed a lease for the NOAH property. The lease required that the hospital reopen NOAH for adolescent mental health treatment.
Today, Landry said Children's only signed the lease in order to continue talks to purchase the property.
"Last year, we approached the state and said we would like to purchase the NOAH property," Landry said, adding that Sen. David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans, sponsored a bill allowing for the sale, without conditions. "When it got to the House, an [Abramson-sponsored] amendment was added that would only allow a lease" and provide that the property must be used for mental health services. That version passed.
“Sen. Heitmeier was not apprised by my prior involvement with this piece of property, that I’ve been working on bringing mental health to for the past five years," said Abramson, who represents the district that includes NOAH, in a phone interview. “Once I apprised him, he quickly worked with me.”
The law, he added, was passed unanimously by both the House and the Senate and signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
“This was a collective thing done by everybody. We were all in agreement.”
The law also required that Children's would have to agree to a lease by Jan. 31 of this year, or the property would be offered to the highest bigger. The hospital signed a lease on Jan. 25.
"We made it clear we were not intending to lease the property to provide those services," but were hoping to continue negotiations, Landry said.
(More after the jump)
State Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, filed legislation today that would allow the state to lease New Orleans Adolescent Hospital (NOAH) to Ochsner Health Systems in June should Children's Hospital does not agree to reopen NOAH for child and adolescent mental health services.
The bill follows last week's dispute after the lawmaker announced to the New Orleans City Council that Children's signed a lease and agreed to reopen the hospital, which Children's denied.
Children's spokesman Brian Landry confirmed the hospital signed the lease in order to meet the deadline and continue negotiations with the state, adding that Abramson was "accurate with the current lease agreement requirements, but what's also in that lease is our ability to cancel the lease. He knew we were intending to cancel the lease if we're unsuccessful in lifting the restrictions.
The lease requires Children's to reopen NOAH and provide services similar to those it provided before its closure, pursuant to a 2012 law that authorized the lease.
“If [Children's] fail to exercise the agreement under their right of first refusal, the bill provides that we can move on to the next person," Abramson said in a phone interview today. And the next person is Ochsner.
(More after the jump)
Update (4 p.m.): Laura Maggi reports in The Times-Picayune that Children's Hospital this afternoon issued a statement saying it is in fact not planning on reopening the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital.
From the story:
"We articulated the hospital's position that relocating mental health services from the Calhoun campus to the deteriorated NOAH campus would not be economically feasible. We will continue to provide mental health services on the Calhoun Campus," according to the statement.
Neither Abramson nor representatives of Children's Hospital immediately returned requests for comment.
In the meantime, take a look at Act 867 of 2012, which authorized the transfer of the property to Children's Hospital. The law provided that the Louisiana Division of Administration may enter into a lease with Children's, provided that it happens by Feb. 1, 2013. Here's what happens otherwise:
"The lease provided for in Section 3 and Section 4 shall be executed by February 1, 2013. Failure to execute the lease shall render Section 3 and Section 4 null, void and without effect. After such time or when Children's Hospital refuses to enter into the lease, whichever is sooner, the commissioner of administration is authorized to to offer a lease of the property ... to the highest bidder."
If Children's Hospital didn't sign the lease by February, the state could offer NOAH up to anyone. Children's signed it on Jan. 25. The lease requires the hospital to provide the same services NOAH did before it was closed, but it gives the hospital two years (plus reasonable time extensions) to bring it up to code. If Children's fails to live up to the agreement, the property simply reverts back to state contol. Meanwhile the state and Children's Hospital are able to negotiate the sale of the property, which is, according to Maggi's report, what Children's wants.
Here's what happened earlier today (after the jump):
It's a great spot, and one entirely appropriate for Super Bowl week. Even for those Saints fans who have been closely following Steve Gleason's no-white-flags fight against the disease, the last few seconds of this video are likely a heartbreaker.
Raindrops filled a few puddles inside the shell of Circle Food Store, the iconic domed Treme grocery store and community space, which has stood empty since the 2005 floods when 5 feet of water filled the landmark. It first opened in 1939 as the first African-American-owned grocery store in New Orleans. Today, city officials and owner Dwayne Boudreaux held a ceremonial groundbreaking and announced the store's reopening in summer 2013.
"This was an iconic place for so many of us. It was the hub of the 7th Ward," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "There are very few symbols of what New Orleans was and what it could be than Circle Food Store."
Last summer, Landrieu's office announced a $1 million loan from the Fresh Food Financing Initiative, which launched in March 2011 to offer low-cost, flexible financing to retailers looking to expand affordable fresh food options in under-served neighborhoods. FFRI is financed by $7 million in Disaster Community Development Block Grant funds, matched by the Hope Enterprise Corporation (totaling $14 million in FFRI funds).
Boudreaux told Gambit construction will likely begin next week and he anticipates the store reopening in July. Landrieu's economic development advisor Aimee Quirk said the store will employ 75 full- and part-time jobs.
"I made a commitment when I was running for mayor of New Orleans that we would rebuild New Orleans East, that everyone knew how important it was and that one of the most iconic symbols of New Orleans East would be rebuilt. And that was Methodist Hospital," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
New Orleans East Hospital — funded with more than $100 million in federal loans and grants, plus millions in private donations — will be the city's only full-service hospital east of the Industrial Canal when it's completed. The hospital is set to open later this year.
"I'm a resident of New Orleans East so I know what this means," said Ronald Burns, chairman of the Orleans Hospital Service District A Board of Directors. "This brings us one step closer to a health care system, not just a hospital, a system."
(Groundbreaking photos and some information from a city press release after the jump)
Saints safety Steve Gleason was surprised this morning with a custom-made, two-seater recumbent bike — and within a few minutes of seeing it in his driveway, he suited up for a ride in Lakeview. Gleason, who battles ALS (or Lou Gehrig's disease), will plan to train on the bike to ride in the Ride 2 Recovery Gulf Coast Challenge, a more than 400 mile ride that begins in New Orleans and ends in Florida. The event, presented by United Healthcare, is March 2-9 and is one of several annual "challenge" rides to benefit wounded veterans.
The "Big Easy" bike, designed and donated by Ride 2 Recovery, can be pedaled by one or two people, allowing Gleason to take breaks. It has an independent pedaling system, adjustable seating and straps, and an elevated seat. Before he sped off with Ride 2 Recovery's John Wordin, Gleason said he battles ALS with "perseverance and creativity." Then with a smile: "Let's go."
Gleason's wife Michel and his family kept the bike a secret and said the bike was "the best Christmas present," and the couple's son Rivers cheered him with pom poms borrowed from the Saintsations cheerleaders.
Over time, it offered refuge to not only abandoned babies but also to individuals afflicted with terminal illnesses. That it was originally named the New Orleans Home for the Incurables was no accident, even if the sound of it today causes health professionals to cringe.
The home initially had an all-female board — 29 years before women secured the right to vote — and their leadership defined the New Orleans Home for the Incurables as a private, nonprofit, nondenominational facility of last resort. It remained that until 1978, when the state of Louisiana bought the home.
The state quickly dropped the “incurables” label and renamed it the New Orleans Home and Rehabilitation Center. The institution’s honeymoon with the state didn’t last long. Practically every governor since has tried to sell off or transfer the home. The task of pushing back fell upon former Sen. John Hainkel, in whose district the home sits. Thanks to Hainkel’s longevity in the Legislature, he kept the center open during his lifetime and protected it from deep budget cuts.
When Hainkel died in 2005, state lawmakers renamed the facility the John J. Hainkel Jr. Home and Rehab Center, known more commonly around the city as Hainkel Home. At the same time, Bobby Jindal, then a congressman from Jefferson Parish, also convinced Congress to rename the Hammond post office in Hainkel's honor.
Today, the Hainkel Home is one of the few remaining options for Medicaid and Veterans Administration patients in the New Orleans area — but it has no champion with Hainkel’s legendary clout. Jindal, now in his second term as Louisiana’s governor, wants to shutter the facility.
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