New Orleans East Hospital designed to provide modern, storm-ready patient care

By Rebecca Catalanello, | The Times-Picayune 

NOLA HospitalThe newly opened New Orleans East Hospital is 205,380 square feet of gleaming floors, natural light and organic hues designed to create a warm, welcoming feel for patients.

But when facilities director Karl Warner looks around at this modernistic $130 million community hospital, it’s what’s on top that brings him particular comfort: the generators.

Before he was airlifted from the former Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital in 2005, Warner spent the days following Hurricane Katrina manually¬†hauling diesel fuel from a 10,000-gallon tank¬†on the hospital’s first floor to a rooftop generator after a¬†ground-level fuel pump and two other generators flooded.

Today, the¬†long-anticipated 80-bed hospital¬†that replaces Pendleton on Read Boulevard boasts three rooftop generators, 18,000 gallons of fuel onsite and a fuel pump raised 18-feet in the air. According to a spokesman with the city of New Orleans, that’s enough to keep the hospital operating for at least 96 hours in the event of an emergency.

The safeguards are a few of the many things that Warner says make him glad to be back. “I just couldn’t believe it was destroyed,” he said Tuesday, recalling the sight of the former storm-ravaged facility as he peered through the windows of the helicopter years ago. “I had to believe I would come back.”

Designed in joint venture partnership by¬†Manning Architects¬†and¬†Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, New Orleans East Hospital was built with another storm in mind. And due in part to the pressures of federal financing for the project, the team had to complete their architectural plans in under seven months ‚ÄĒ about half the time they anticipated at the outset.

“One of the things we learned from the post-Katrina experience was that we were smart enough to ask different kinds of questions that we wouldn’t ask before, such as, ‘What do you expect to do in the event of another Katrina?'” said architect¬†Mark Ripple, principal-in-charge on the project.¬†Full Story