NEW ORLEANS -- Could the east wing of the old Charity Hospital one day become a thriving medical center again?
That's the hope of doctors and developers who have been meeting for several weeks. Now there are new details on the vision to re-develop the historic building into a world hub for brain treatment.
Since the 1980s, three emergency medicine doctors have been researching a discovery about the brain. And in 2008, LSUHSC Doctors Paul Harch and Keith Van Meter, along with Tulane's Dr. James Moises, published landmark paper showing prolonging survival of the brain beyond 20 minutes after the heart stops.
Dr. Nicolas Bazan was the senior author on the paper. For years, in hyperbaric oxygen tanks, they have treated people with strokes, near drownings, war injuries of veterans, concussions of NFL players, car wrecks and autism.
In the LSU Neuroscience Center, Dr. Nicolas Bazan's team has discovered a compound that, if given early, can protect the injured brain. For the last two months, these doctors have been meeting with city, community leaders and real estate developers with a major idea.
The vision is still in its infancy. But imagine if the old, empty Charity Hospital building could one day be the world center for brain research, treatment, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and the development of medical and pharmaceutical companies.
"That tower can allow the development also of incubators specific for neurosciences, because if you develop companies around these issues, you need operating rooms and specialized equipment for brain research," said Dr. Nicolas Bazan, director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health Sciences Center.
His hope is for the Charity building to be another branch of the main laboratories.
The vision is grand, adding training for emergency medicine doctors and neuroscientists and medical students from hospitals and schools around the globe. Divers injured off shore could be treated here. Dr. Bazan calls the potential "transformative."
"Even part of this to happen would be extraordinary for New Orleans and for the region," he said.
Dr. Bazan said Mayor Mitch Landrieu has encouraged him over the years on development of neuroscience center projects. Developer Pres Kabacoff, CEO and co-chairman of the board of HRI Properties, is being consulted on the development.