NEW ORLEANS -- Doctors and nurses are already being recruited to work in Methodist hospital, now under construction in New Orleans East.
That's in addition to 200 new staff position jobs. The construction is triggering growth in the area.
It's been eight years since the 80,000 people of New Orleans East have had their own hospital.
"What we know is that people prefer to use health care in their neighborhood, where they're known, where their doctor and their nurses are part of that community," said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, the New Orleans Health Commissioner.
Even though weather, among other things, has pushed the fall opening of Methodist Hospital to spring, today was a celebration with the hundreds of men and women who are making it possible.
"It's an excellent thing and a good feeling, to just drive up and see that something that you've done and accomplished. It's an honor. It is an honor," said Jevon Brown, 33, who lives Uptown. He is a sheet metal construction worker who says he takes pride in rebuilding the city after Hurricane Katrina.
The mayor, city officials and construction workers signed one of the steel beams that will soon be hung to support the hospital. Lunch was served and gifts were given in the area that will soon be a full service emergency room.
Of course this is post Katrina construction and this is New Orleans East, prone to flooding, so all clinic and medical services, even the E.R. will be on the second floor. The only thing people will see on the first floor is office space, the cafeteria and lobby.
"This project, we feel, will revolutionize this community. The residents will not have to cross the High Rise, or go to Slidell, or go to Chalmette. A lot of residents in New Orleans East felt like we were forgotten," said Ronald Burns, Sr., Board Chairman of the Hospital Service District.
The vision is already enticing pharmacies, doctors, uniform shops, and food shops to hang out a shingle. Build it and they will come.
To refresh your memory, before Katrina, Methodist had 300 beds for the 130,000 people of New Orleans East.
Now it will have 80 beds for the 80,000 residents. But since the area is expected to continue growing, the hospital has a built-in plan for expansion.