The Times-Picayune, February 8, 2011
In the next 60 days, contractors for St. Margaret’s Daughters, a Catholic church-affiliated nonprofit health-care provider, are scheduled to begin limited demolition work as part of the redevelopment of the old Lindy Boggs Medical Center in Mid-City.
The first phase of the redevelopment is a nursing facility projected to open in the summer of 2012, several months later than the target announced in April 2010 when St. Margaret’s bought the property on the corner of Bienville Street and North Jefferson Davis Parkway.
Jason Hemel, St. Margaret’s vice president for development, confirmed that his organization is in talks with a hospital operator about the yet-undetailed second phase: a small hospital. Addressing the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization this week, Hemel did not disclose the potential operator or the specifics of what kind of hospital or surgical center St. Margaret’s has in mind. He referred mostly to a “specialty hospital” and mentioned “30 to 50 beds,” but he did not explicitly rule out the possibility of a full-service hospital.
It is questionable how a full-service hospital in Mid-City would fit into a hospital market where existing hospitals like Tulane Medical Center and Touro Infirmary, to say nothing of the hundreds of additional beds that would come online with the completion of the planned University Medical Center and an eastern New Orleans hospital on the old Methodist Hospital campus.
Specialty hospitals that target customers for specific, often out-patient procedures – orthopedics, heart catheterizations – are increasingly commonplace in the U.S. health care system.
“In about six to eight months, we should have some more things to announce,” Hemel said.
St. Margaret’s executives have said that the end product would include physician offices, clinic spaces, rehabilitation services and a small surgical hospital, a complex modeled after the organization’s St. Luke’s Medical Center and St. Luke’s Living Center that opened last year in Algiers.
Hemel said St. Margaret’s also is considering a wellness center and is in discussions with a day-care provider for a facility that could serve employees and surrounding community members. “We don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like,” he said.
The demolition work will take about 45 to 60 days as architects finish the final plans for the new nursing home facilities will occupy about 100,000 square feet of what had been medical office buildings at Lindy Boggs. The entire complex is about 300,000 square feet.
Though plans are not final, Hemel said the concept envisions apartment-style rooms clustered in “neighborhoods,” rather than traditional long hallways with single and double rooms on each side. Plans call for 12 neighborhoods each with nine rooms. Each room will have its own kitchen, laundry and dining area.
“We’re trying to make it much more like being in your own home,” Hemel said, adding that St. Margaret’s executives have traveled extensively to see the same model in other cities.
The Lindy Boggs Medical Center, run by for-profit Tenet Healthcare Corp., suffered extensive flood damage from Hurricane Katrina and its levee breaches. The hospital never reopened after the flood.
Tenet sold the property to Victory Real Estate Investments, a Georgia firm that amassed several Mid-City properties with the intention of developing a Bienville retail corridor. That idea never materialized. Public records show that St. Margaret’s acquired the Lindy Boggs complex for $4.2 million.
St. Margaret’s Daughters, constituted in 1889, has been providing institutional health care since it opened a facility in the Holy Cross neighborhood in 1931. The agency’s Lower 9th Ward nursing home flooded during Katrina and has since reopened at 3419 St. Claude Avenue.