Hurricanes Katrina and Rita reshaped the operations of the hospitals of the LSU Hospitals and caused significant disruption in Louisiana’s healthcare safety net. The ultimate story of rebirth, renewal, and reinvention is one whose ending is still not entirely known.
At the top of the accomplishments of this hospital system was the immediate response of our staff across the state to the hurricanes’ devastation of their facilities and their communities.
The National Association of Public Hospitals awarded our hospitals its 2006 Safety Net Award in recognition of what it called “the extraordinary dedication, service and heroism displayed by the institutions” during the hurricanes. This honor is well deserved. The heroism of those who stayed in Charity and University hospitals in New Orleans during the storm is widely known.
The dedication of our staff systemwide is less widely appreciated even though several other hospitals were also damaged, evacuated, or both. All of the facilities were ultimately able to absorb new patients and add needed services, demonstrating clearly the value of a system of hospitals.
The response of all of our hospitals is a reflection not only of the individual character of our staff in a crisis, but also of their ongoing dedication to their service mission.
The commitment to providing access to quality care for the uninsured and others in need flows from the same source as the willingness to stay in place during a crisis. Louisiana’s public hospitals demonstrated that they are a valuable asset to the state.