ALGIERS—In Algiers -- a new medical facility. St. Luke's Medical Center opened today, giving Orleans Parish close to 50 more hospital beds, more than 100 Medicare and Medicaid nursing beds, nearly 20 geriatric psychiatric beds, hospice beds and more. Experts say New Orleans still has only about 60 percent of the hospital beds it needs. "About 15 hundred beds more or less. We have about 900 beds in the city so we are about six or seven hundred beds short," says Orleans Parish Medical Director Kevin Stephens.
But St. Luke's opening helps the city medically. "It's on the Westbank, and we don't have anything in Orleans Parish on the Westbank per se. We do have Ochsner which is Meadowcrest and West Jeff, but that's in Jefferson Parish," says Dr. Stephens.
St. Luke's 19 psychiatric beds will bring the city a small step closer to the number it needs -- about 350. "Post-Katrina, we've had double the incidents of prevalence of severe mental illness so with that in consideration we need close to 150 more beds," he says.
The good news: hings are moving along. Construction on Methodist Hospital in New Orleans East is set to start in the next year, and the city is waiting on the approval of FEMA funding for the planned new LSU/VA hospital complex.
Although there are no emergency room beds at St. Luke's, the facility is going to result in an estimated 15 million dollar economic impact for Algiers and will employ more than 200. It's being called a medical mall and includes Tulane's Cardiolocy Clinic, Sleep Rite, Crescent Pulmonary Clinic and a pharmacy.