NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - "This is the biggest project I've ever worked on," said drywall installer Mike Singletary while on his lunch break outside the new University Medical Center.
Singletary says the $1.1 billion Mid-City hospital is coming together well.
Last week, LCMC Health, the company that will run the hospital, delayed its opening from the end of May until Aug. 1.
LCMC CEO Gregory Feirn released this statement:
We recently announced a change in the targeted opening date for University Medical Center New Orleans to August 1, 2015. The project management, construction and transition teams have done an exceptional job preparing us for this significant milestone. With safe and effective patient care in mind, all parties involved felt the decision to open on August 1, 2015 was essential.
Training for staff and physicians in the new facility is set to begin in April and will take approximately three months. This time period will allow the UMC New Orleans team to familiarize themselves with the new facility and the more than 400 pieces of new medical equipment and 200 pieces of new facility equipment.
Contrary to recent media reports, the change in the opening date is not related to the State's recently announced SFY 16 budget. It is reasonable to expect that a project of this magnitude would have a fluid timeline and the work that has been accomplished has been truly remarkable.
LCMC Health and state leadership recently conducted a very productive and collaborative meeting regarding the State Budget. All parties are committed to restoring the necessary funding for UMC New Orleans. We have every confidence that a successful solution will be reached.
The state's proposed budget does not include $88 million for operating the hospital. While the state and LCMC say they are working things out, State Treasurer John Kennedy says he questions the timing of the delay. "This is what I see," said Kennedy. "I see taxpayers are out $1.1 billion to build a new hospital. It's built. I see Children's saying they're shorting us $88 million. I look at the governor's proposed budget and that $88 million is not in there. It's still not in there despite what people are saying."
Kennedy continued, "My position is, look, we built it. We just spent $1.1 billion of American and Louisiana taxpayer dollars. It's built. We've got to make this work. Failure is not an option."
The UMC is now slated to open Aug. 1. The New Orleans VA Hospital, in the same area, was originally slated to open late last year and now is not scheduled to open until 2016.