Health IT for veterans gets notice in New Orleans

Nearly two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, there is still debate about where to rebuild a healthcare system that will provide the best treatment and most efficient electronic record-keeping for veterans in the southeastern Louisiana region.

"Veterans in south Louisiana have waited too long for a decision to be made on the future of healthcare delivery in this area," House Veterans' Affairs Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael Michaud, D-Maine, said in written testimony for a Monday field hearing in New Orleans.

The session was held to address the future of VA health care in the region by convening local government leaders and university officials, veterans and representatives from regional healthcare systems.

Healthcare delivery "remains in flux as leaders struggle to come to some agreement on both the best location and the best partnerships" to forge for providing care to veterans and other citizens, said full House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner, D-Calif.

Before Katrina, the New Orleans VA medical center had a partnership with New Orleans' Louisiana State University, the Tulane University Schools of Medicine and many allied health profession programs. Congress has appropriated $625 million, through two emergency supplemental appropriations, to move ahead on building a new facility.

Frederick Cerise, secretary of the Louisiana Health and Hospitals Department, urged the committee to support a model that would leverage the success of VA's esteemed health information technology system by combining three New Orleans inpatient facilities that existed before Katrina into a single LSU-VA inpatient facility, with a dispersed network of clinics.

The goal of Louisiana's healthcare redesign is to provide care through partnerships that take advantage of health IT and improve health outcomes. "This is akin to the VA vision," Cerise said.

He noted that in the aftermath of Katrina, VA facilities nationwide were able to access patient information for evacuees because of the department's health IT system.

"Investments in HIT and the recently established Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum will aid in creating system-ness and ensuring that improvements in quality occur," Cerise testified.

He cited support for keeping the VA hospital downtown from the Regional Planning Commission for Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes; the Downtown Development District of New Orleans; and the state legislature.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said the city also supports rebuilding the VA hospital downtown.

But Patrick Quinlan, CEO of Ochsner Health Systems, whose Jefferson Parish-based medical center remained open during and after Katrina, recommended that the VA locate the new medical facility outside downtown New Orleans, near Ochsner's center.

In commissioning an independent study of 600 veterans in 18 south Louisiana parishes, "overwhelmingly, 76 percent of veterans indicated they prefer a suburban Jefferson Parish location to one in downtown New Orleans," he stated.

Ochsner's proposal encourages the VA to occupy a 28-acre site owned by Ochsner that has easy access to major highways. "It is above sea level and not located in a flood plain," Quinlan testified. And, "electronic connectivity is possible with Ochsner's complete ambulatory electronic medical record system."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.