New use in the works for old University Hospital

Updated: Jan. 24, 2020 at 5:41 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - After five years of lying dormant there’s new life for an old hospital in downtown New Orleans.

That new life is expected to provide a big boost to LSU’s Medical School as well Delgado.

It was the city's primary hospital, after Katrina flooded out the basement of big charity, but now, some of the walls are coming down at old University Hospital.

“By FEMA regulations it was only temporary, and FEMA, wouldn’t allow it be used as an ongoing hospital per se,” said Larry Hollier, MD, the chancellor of LSU Health.

Not wanting another vacant building in the city's Bioscience district, LSU went to work planning for a new use for the old hospital. And they found that use, in the success of a newly expanded simulation lab in the Health Sciences building.

The lab uses high tech manequins to train medical staff in everything from robotic surgery, to proper doses of medicine. Old University Hospital is now going through a $62 million renovation, to provide three new floors of simulation lab space for doctor, and allied health education.

"We have a lot of demand and interest for the use of that space by industry. If they have a new prosthetic joint, they want to develop, and want to train physicians across the country on how to use it, the facility across the street is the ideal place to do that," said Hollier.

The newly renovated hospital, which for decades was known as 'Hotel Dieu', will soon be called 'The Center for Advanced Learning, and Simulation.'

This project will also have a side benefit that should help another local college.

Newly renovated space in Old University Hospital will also be used to house clinical faculty who will move from a building in the old Charity Hospital complex clearing the way for Delgado to use that space to expand its nursing school.

"Delgado is looking at housing over 3000 students there," said Hollier.

LSU health chancellor Dr. Larry Hollier says there is also progress to report, in the effort to find a new use for a million square feet of space at old charity hospital, which has now sat idle for nearly 15 years.

“We have developers ready to do this, and have signed contracts, and we think the renovation of big charity will start in this first quarter,” said Hollier.

It's been a long road to recovery.

"I think this is a huge advancement for the city," said Hollier.

But in a couple of months, LSU health officials, and their students, can expect to see major progress, in an effort to expand medical education, while renewing the urban landscape, at the same time.

Of the $62 million being spent to renovate old university hospital, $37 million is coming from capital outlay, with LSU Health Sciences putting up $25 million.

Work on the old University Hospital is expected to take two years.

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