New Orleans’ social infrastructure is still today, hundreds of years on, much the same French Colony it was – most of our vital social support systems run by the orders. The Daughters of Charity created “Charity Hospital”… a mammoth structure and institution that provided public care before the 197o’s privatization of medicine. [Side bar – does that mean we had socialized medicine (aka public) before the 1970’s? Hmmm] Back from my tangent: It had wings built for cross ventilation – from a time pre AC. My mother recalls doing medicine there decades ago, even during the segregation era of white wards and black wards. She remembers ice boxes with blocks of ice for patients. Seems a world away from today. It served the millions over the years.
In its more recent history it was the medical care for the poor. It served as the LSU medical center where thousands of doctors and nurses were forged. It has an iconic art deco era presence in the CBD.
Then came Katrina… See this article: Charity’s Last Hours.
The love affair with the city isn’t over yet. The ghost stands downtown and many sentimentalists have fought that we rehab the facility for the new hospital being built. They’ll lose for many noble and ignoble reasons. The new facilities will be better and will be built, jointly with building the new VA hospital. With that said, the old lady is no wonder people do want to defend her. She’s been so good to us over the years. But wait – it represents the Daughters of Charity, this order of nuns who gave so much to us, and the many medical people who cared for us for scores of years. That’s what is so sentimental to us. The building is the space where that happened. We need to not forget, to honor and to remember.
Charity, your next chapter will not involve the nuns, but we will remember.
K+5… Charity was gone, the city filling up, people dying and scrambling and trapped. The city was cut off – an island, every bridge broken. Thank God those days are past. Do not forget. Thank you America for coming to save and help us, to those who STILL come – thank you!