NEW ORLEANS — A shell of a building, Lady of the Sea General Hospital in Cut Off is standing, but unusable.
“That was wide open during the storm, so water was just pouring in through holes like that which we have all over,” hospital Chief Operating Officer Lloyd Guidry said, pointing to holes where a water pipe used to be in the hospital.
A year after Hurricane Ida left the critical access hospital unable to care for its community, there’s now a lifeline to build a temporary hospital.
“It’ll extend all the way from highway to highway,” hospital CEO Karen Collins said, pointing to a large area next to the existing hospital.
Collins said the 28,500-square-foot temporary hospital should be in place by mid-April.
“It seems like a super long journey, been very challenging for everybody," Collins said.
It’ll operate much like the existing one did before the storm except for surgeries.
“Hospitals are lifelines in a rural community, so we wanted to get that back as soon as possible,” Collins said. “That way we have a temporary hospital that will be able to provide those services while we are working on the permanent facility
The money to build the temporary hospital comes from a $14 million FEMA grant. There’s still a question as to whether the existing hospital will be repaired or replaced. Either way, it’ll take about three years.
“This facility is totally devastated by Ida,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, who helped hospital leaders get the money in place faster said.
Cassidy saw firsthand Tuesday, how badly it’s needed.
“You need this for the security, for the health of the community,” Cassidy said, pointing to the hospital.
Weeks after the storm, emergency and outpatient services were operating to meet medical needs in Southern Lafourche Parish, but with no actual hospital, there was no inpatient care.
Collins says that’s been a year-long stress on the community since the nearest hospital is about 30 minutes away.
“It’s very difficult for our elderly patients to have to travel if they have to be hospitalized,” Collins said.
Able to act as a full-service hospital, Collins said the temporary one will provide a missing piece for a community still recovering.
“It’s really heartbreaking, I think for the community because where’s our hospital?” Collins said.