Daughters of Charity expand healing ministry

  Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans is putting the last coats of paint and the finishing touches on its new Daughters of Charity Health Center East at the former Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital campus on Read Boulevard and will be ready to see the first patients on Jan. 6.
 The new, state-of-the-art center has 33,000 square feet and will open on the eve of the 180th anniversary of Daughters of Charity providing health care to the city of New Orleans. An official ribbon cutting is tentatively scheduled for March 14, two weeks prior to the Daughters of Charity’s annual “Keeping our Promises” Gala on March 28 at the Hyatt Regency.

Fourth health center
    It will be the fourth health center for Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans, a member of Ascension Health, the largest Catholic non-profit health care provider. Other centers are in Bywater, 1030 Lesseps St., in the former St. Cecilia School; 3201 South Carrollton Ave., New Orleans; and 111 North Causeway Blvd. in Metairie that underwent at $400,000 renovation and expansion earlier this year.
    The opening of the center signals a continuing health care commitment by the Daughters of Charity to all areas of New Orleans.
    “It’s a symbol that the storm is over,” said Maureen Larkins, vice president of strategic and community affairs for Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans (DCSNO). “People are excited about having something in New Orleans East for health care and economic development. Just driving through this area of New Orleans East there is a lot going on.”
    She pointed out the renovated library, the new police station, Joe Brown Park, a dialysis center, a Baptist church and a multitude of businesses that have opened. “This is a great hub for economic development,” she said.
    Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans collaborated with the city of New Orleans on the New Orleans East center to return primary and preventive health care to the area, Larkins said.
    Its $9.1 million cost was funded by $1 million in Daughters of Charity Foundation Capital Funding from the 1992 sale of Hotel Dieu, $2 million in Community Development Block Grant money, $1 million from a Johnson and Johnson court settlement for primary care and New Market Tax Credits.
Top-notch care, facility
    The New Orleans East site replaces a smaller, temporary center the Daughters of Charity Services had opened in May 2012 on the same campus. The new, two-story site was designed by Blitch Knevel architects and built by F.H. Myers.
    It has 38 exam rooms, two special procedure rooms with bathrooms that are near a nurses’ station, a lab, pharmacy for patients and non-patients (in the near future), medical home team rooms, and education and training rooms on the first floor. In addition, the second floor will provide behavior health counseling and a 2,500-square-foot wellness center that will be completed in the near future. A side, covered drop-off ramp also is included.
    Special amenities of the center include an electronic medical records system that links to the on-site pharmacy and all other Daughters of Charity centers and also a health information exchange process with a few area hospitals to provide a continuum of care for patients.
    As at all health centers, the new site will provide care for the whole family – from babies and pregnant women to the elderly – with special emphasis on those with chronic illnesses (diabetes, asthma, etc.) and the underserved. Both insured and uninsured patients are taken, and counselors are staffed to enroll people in the new healthcare marketplace and work with the uninsured who will pay on a sliding scale based on income.
    Larkins said the New Orleans East site was sorely needed. The temporary location saw more than 6,000 people since May 2012, and many from New Orleans East had also visited Daughters of Charity’s other centers.
    “We’re projected to see 50,000 patients annually,” Larkins, a long-time resident of New Orleans East, said about the new site. “There is nothing like this in the East. This area used to be quite busy as a medical campus.”
Celebrating 180 years
    In celebration of health care in New Orleans since 1834, Daughters of Charity will have a Mass Jan. 4 at 4 p.m. at St. Joseph Church, 1802 Tulane Ave., New Orleans. Archbishop Gregory Aymond will be the celebrant, Larkins said.
     The growth of Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans will not stop with its center in New Orleans East. Larkins said the Daughters are in the final stages of working with Dillard University to become the operating partner of a more than 12,000-square-foot community health center on campus. The center will be open to staff and students as well as the general public.
    “People love the Daughters of Charity,” Larkins said. “We tell people we are not free, but we will help them out as best as we can, and that you can do everything you need (medically) in one place. Our new center is beautiful and state of the art.”
            Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarionherald.org.

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