Guest Column: New University Medical Center is a step forward for New Orleans _lowres

Greg Feirn

On Aug. 1, nearly 10 years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed Charity Hospital, our community began a new and exciting chapter with the opening of University Medical Center New Orleans. The impact that UMC New Orleans will have on public health and patient care for our community is significant.

UMC New Orleans is the flagship academic medical center of LCMC Health, a Louisiana-based, nonprofit health care system serving the needs of the people of Louisiana, the Gulf South and beyond. LCMC Health is proudly composed of Children’s Hospital New Orleans, Touro, New Orleans East Hospital and, soon, West Jefferson Medical Center.

Our system employs over 8,100 Louisianians and, in keeping with national trends in health care, has the size, strength and commitment to advance the quality of care, to lower costs and to improve overall health for the communities we serve.

Through these institutions and at UMC New Orleans in particular, LCMC Health is delivering high-quality care that will resonate for generations to come.

The community has great reason to be energized as it relates to UMC New Orleans: positive economic impact, academic partnerships, a world-class facility and technologically advanced research. The $1.1 billion facility in the BioDistrict corridor is a significant economic achievement for New Orleans.

UMC New Orleans has created thousands of construction jobs and ultimately will employ 2,600 physicians and staff, adding more jobs as demand for our services grows. The campus is drawing retail partners to the Mid-City area, bringing even more jobs and economic growth.

As an academic medical center, we will foster the next generation of leaders in health care by training the brightest medical students from LSU Health Sciences Center, Tulane University School of Medicine and other universities, and will recruit renowned physicians who will draw regional and national consumers to seek medical care in New Orleans. LCMC Health has long valued its academic partnerships through our founding hospitals, Children’s Hospital New Orleans and Touro.

The 2.3 million-square-foot campus includes 446 beds (60 of which are behavioral health beds), 19 operating rooms and an emergency department with 56 exam rooms, nine acute treatment rooms and five trauma rooms. The building itself was constructed from the ground up to be integrated with leading-edge technology and to be resilient both in everyday practice and in the event of a major hurricane.

Within these rooms, this technology gives our medical professionals an edge on treating disease, injury and illness. Elsewhere on the campus, clinicians and researchers will be focused on preventing those same diseases and illnesses through advancements in research like personalized medicine, which is tailored to the individual.

UMC New Orleans also remains the only Level I trauma center in the region, a significant asset to this community. New Orleans has been on the path toward becoming a regional medical destination, and UMC New Orleans only adds to this exciting transformation.

The services we provide today would not be possible without funding from the state. We are extremely appreciative of our state legislators who stood up for and prioritized the funding of health care during the 2015 legislative session.

In doing so, the Legislature has enabled critically needed health care services to underserved populations across the state and has invested not only in the building and operations of UMC New Orleans but in the future health of our community. The dedicated men and women in the Legislature are to be commended for their foresight and determination this past session.

Our successful opening of UMC New Orleans also would not be possible without the thousands of dedicated medical, administrative and professional staff and our academic partners, all of whom are committed to providing seamless, person-centered, team-based, high-quality health care.

This team brought UMC New Orleans to life this month, and they are essential to its success. We thank them for their dedicated service to health care.

We are proud that UMC New Orleans is a part of the LCMC Health family, an already strong health system impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands in our community. It is a symbol of optimism, building an infrastructure to be better than what once was and redefining the future of medicine and health care within our system.

We celebrate the legacy upon which we build our future, and on Aug. 1, the new legacy of UMC New Orleans began.

Gregory C. Feirn is CEO of LCMC Health.