Veterans Medical Center Opens in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — The Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System Replacement Medical Center in New Orleans opened its doors to patients on Dec. 5. The 1.7 million-square-foot veterans medical center replaces medical infrastructure destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and delivers patient-centered care, addressing medical, surgical and quality-of-life needs, to the city’s veteran population.

The facility was constructed by Clark/McCarthy Healthcare Partners (CMHP) — a joint venture of the two national firms, Clark Construction Group LLC and McCarthy Building Companies Inc. — in partnership with local companies Landis Construction and Woodward Design+Build. The project’s lead architect was Studio NOVA, a joint venture between San Francisco-based NBBJ and locally based Eskew+Dumez+Ripple and Rozas Ward Architects.

Part of an expanding medical district, the facility is located on a 34-acre campus adjacent to the new University Medical Center New Orleans, Louisiana State University Health Science Center and Tulane Medical Center. The veterans medical center alone makes up a unified nine-building campus that includes the restored Pan-American Life building, which serves as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) administration building as well as a new diagnostic and treatment building, inpatient building, outpatient building, transitional living facility, central energy plant, patient parking garage and staff parking garage. Later this year, the CMHP team will complete construction of the ninth building, a new research building being constructed as part of the historic Dixie Brewery building.

The complex is organized around a central concourse that links atriums opening into large program blocks subdivided into smaller buildings, according to a statement. These are separated by green courtyards designed to have the same look and feel of the French Quarter. In total, the veterans medical center houses 200 inpatient beds, 370 outpatient exam rooms, 21 procedural suites, eight operating rooms, adulatory clinics, emergency and imaging departments mental health services, patient education facilities and outpatient rehabilitation services. It also features smart classrooms and conference rooms that are updated with the latest technologies such as integrated cameras in the operating rooms and robotic surgery.

To prevent future natural disasters from affecting the facility, it is designed to remain fully operational during a major storm and contains enough provisions and accommodations for up to 1,000 staff and patients for five days, according to a statement. Plus, critical health care functions are located at least 21 feet above the base flood elevation. The campus also includes an emergency transport heliport and boat dock.

“Our team applied lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina to create a resilient hospital infrastructure with an efficient, patient-centered design that will serve up to 70,000 veterans from throughout the region,” said Steve Maslen, project executive of CMHP, in a statement.

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