Hurricane Katrina destroyed many health facilities when it hit in 2005. Among these institutions was Charity Hospital, a public facility that was forced to close. Many people relied on Charity Hospital’s emergency room if they did not have health insurance but had ongoing chronic problems. There was limited primary care or preventive medicine for patients, and patients had to wait months to schedule an appointment.
Current times are different in New Orleans, as it received a significant amount of funding from the state and federal governments and private foundations. The funds were used to establish new hospitals and clinics. The University Medical Center New Orleans just opened in August to replace the old Charity Hospital. It is expected that this new institution will be able to provide excellent care for both acute and chronic needs. Moreover, the University Medical Center New Orleans is most proud of its new network of primary clinics. According to a poll administered by NPR and the Kaiser Foundation, 72% of adults agreed that progress has been made in their access to healthcare. However, 64% of respondents claim more needs to be done to assist those patients with low incomes and no insurance.
One of the biggest remaining weaknesses in New Orleans’s healthcare is the timely access to specialty care, such as orthopedics and neurology, so hopefully the new medical center will improve this issue. Access to mental healthcare is also a major issue because many psychiatrists fled New Orleans after the hurricane. Even worse, there are currently only three psychiatrists in the city who accept Medicaid.
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