March 24, 2006
We held a Town Hall meeting last night in Baton Rouge that was also carried live in New Orleans. For those of you who were not able to attend, Ill briefly summarize what we discussed.
Work is well underway and continuing on our facilities. As most of you know, the Trail, Lions, and Medical Education buildings are now open and educational and research activities have resumed in them. The Schools of Public Health and Graduate Studies returned home in January. The School of Allied Health Professions is planning to move back to New Orleans in mid to late April. We expect the Residence halls to be ready for occupancy by mid-May, and the Resource Center by June. The nursing and medical schools will return at the end of this semester. The renovation of 1542 Tulane will require about 18 months, so well make space in the Lions building available on an interim basis. The dental school, which sustained the most damage, is planning a phased return to the city. We will move research back first, and that is anticipated by July. The students will remain in Baton Rouge through next year, returning by the early summer of 2007.
We will remain financially viable through the remainder of this fiscal year through a $50 million allocation from a federal Social Services Block Grant recommended by the Louisiana Recovery Authority Board and approved by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. The Health Care Services Division will receive $20 million through the same process. As for next fiscal year, we will be able to write new affiliation agreements to revive revenue streams, and we hope to receive official approval of our CMS waiver request soon. Of course, the $50 million will cover only our downsized expenses. As we move back home, we will need additional personnel support and additional resources, and no budget cuts.
Despite the challenges of the past seven months, we are ahead of target in our research productivity. Our faculty have submitted 75 new grants and competing renewals and 15 NIH supplement requests. We have been awarded 12 new NIH grants and 4 NIH supplements. Our current annual NIH awards total $39.5 million. For FY2005, we had $62.3 million in total research funding and to date in FY 2006, we already have $48.5 million. This achievement is something in which we should all take a great deal of pride.
Another area in which we should take great pride is admissions. Applications throughout our schools are either about the same or even higher than in past years. This is a testament to the quality of our educational product that remains intact thanks to the herculean efforts of all of you.
Our deans provided updates on their schools and the highlights include:
From the School of Graduate Studies: There is continuing interest in the MD/PhD program and they expect to enroll 5 or 6 students.
From the School of Dentistry: The senior students did very well on the state board exam recently and the 50-chair student clinic is busy treating patients six days a week.
From the School of Nursing: Community nursing students are getting rich experience working in the many community programs created to respond to the disaster. New research endeavors and new partnerships are being created including a new practice site at Odyssey House.
From the School of Allied Health Professions: The Human Development Center received word that its national Department of Education grant for disabilities accountability is being maintained, and there are more students enrolled this semester than at this same time last year.
From the School of Public Health: Donations are coming in, notably to its statewide Breast and Cervical Program, from such organizations as the Komen Foundation.
And, of course, the most recent news in the School of Medicine was the Match. Despite the damage to our health infrastructure, slightly less than half of our graduates will remain in Louisiana residency programs. Through the Match and the Scramble, all of our residency programs filled.
The Trauma Center at Elmwood should be open with 38 beds next month. Work continues at University Hospital to open 100 beds initially, by early July. If all goes as planned, bed capacity will expand to about 250 by January. Because of the closure of our public hospitals in New Orleans, we expanded rotations at Earl K. Long and University Medical Center. With bed capacity at MCLNO greatly reduced as it reopens, we are placing our residents in a number of other hospitals as well, including Touro, Ochsner, Kenner Regional, West Jefferson, East Jefferson, Our Lady of the Lake, and Womans in Baton Rouge. And a new university hospital is on track for Baton Rouge.
As we move back to New Orleans, housing remains a pressing issue. We are identifying properties owned by our alumni and others who will work with us at reasonable rates. As we are able to quantify needs, we will provide contact information for these property managers. As for the future, developers are looking at projects to build medical housing in New Orleans.
Also looking to the future, I have appointed a committee, chaired by Dr. Jimmy Cairo, to develop a comprehensive disaster plan to be in place by May 15, 2006. Disaster planning has taken on a new urgency, and you will be hearing much more about this in the coming months.
As recovery efforts continue, this week the U. S. Department of Economic Development awarded a $300,000 grant to the Regional Planning Commission to coordinate with us and other partners a collaborative medical district and technology commercialization strategy. Toward that end, work on the BioInnovation Center will continue, and plans will move forward to build the Louisiana Cancer Research Center in conjunction with a new University Hospital/VA Hospital combined facility.
A final note, the Tiger Den Cafe expects to reopen for
food service in MEB by the end of next week, another sign of our progress
on the road to recovery.