Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lawsuit filed to reopen Charity Hospital

by The Times-Picayune
Thursday January 17, 2008, 12:40 PM

By Kate Moran
Staff Writer

Attorneys representing seven uninsured patients filed a lawsuit Thursday to force the state to reopen Charity Hospital or make other provisions to care for thousands of people with diabetes, cancer, chronic mental illness and other conditions that have deteriorated from lack of access to health care since Hurricane Katrina.

Louisiana State University reopened University Hospital after the storm to provide safety net care to the region's uninsured, but the attorneys argued that University does not provide the full complement of services that were available at Charity. University has 171 staffed beds, compared to 550 at the two hospitals before the storm.

LSU officials have argued the old Charity complex is outdated and damaged and that it would be economically wasteful to try and reopen it.

"The unlawful closure of Big Charity had had a devastating impact on the greater New Orleans area," the lawsuit says. "Among other things, thousands of residents lack basic health care, the chronically ill go untreated, and critical specialty care is either delayed or unavailable."

The suit was filed in the Civil District Court in New Orleans by a group of attorneys, all working pro bono. They include Stephen Rosenfeld of Boston; Calvin Johnson, William Quigley and Tracie Washington of New Orleans; Thomas Milliner of Metairie; Steven Berman of Seattle; and Leonard Aragon of Phoenix.

Lawsuit Filed Challenging the Closure of Charity Hospital

The Louisiana Justice Institute joined other organizations, health professionals, patients, public safety and legal advocates, elected officials, faith and community leaders at a press conference today to announce the lawsuit challenging the closure of New Orleans' Rev. Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital.

The healthcare crisis in the Greater New Orleans community continues. Tens of thousands of working poor people, children, elderly and others across the Metro New Orleans community still cannot get the healthcare they need. While several neighborhood clinics have opened and are providing primary care to thousands, most of these clinics provide only primary care and have no place to refer their patients for medically essential specialty and tertiary care and advanced diagnostic services.

Press Conference participants included;
  • Former patients of Charity Hospital who have agreed to serve as plaintiffs and class representatives in this legal action
  • Healthcare and social service professionals
  • Neighborhood health clinic operators
  • Law enforcement officials
  • Advocates for equitable access to healthcare
  • Community Leaders
  • LJI President & CEO Tracie L. Washington along with other attorneys from New Orleans, Boston, Phoenix and Seattle, representing the class of plaintiffs legally entitled to healthcare services formerly provided at Charity Hospital in New Orleans and its affiliated clinics.