The Louisiana State University Health Care Services Division and the Department of Veterans Affairs have announced a collaboration to build a $1.2 billion hospital complex in New Orleans to treat patients previously served by Charity Hospital, which was damaged in Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Robert Lynch, director of the VA health care network for the region, said the federal government already has appropriated about $625 million for the project. Donald Smithburg, director of the LSU health division, said state money for the complex needs to be approved, adding that the announcement of the project "lays out a road map for how the VA and the public hospital system will work together." LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Rod West said the next step for developing the hospital complex will be for LSU hospital officials to make a formal request for financing that includes a detailed business plan. The Louisiana Recovery Authority then would estimate how much funding the project should receive, which would be subject to approval by the state Legislature and the federal government. Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) in a statement said the size of the hospital will depend in part on the demand for services and on a health care pilot project under development by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Fred Cerise and private interest groups. The new hospital would take over teaching and treatment services from Charity Hospital, but the announcement of the new facility does not mean that the state is ready to demolish Charity, which has been closed since Katrina, Smithburg said (Pope, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 6/20).

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