Acadiana Business

Our Lady of Lourdes brings down the walls

by Kari Walker

Former hospital on St. Landry street reduced to rubble.

A St. Landry Street icon is soon to be nothing more than memory of works of healing and a pile of bricks by the end of 2013. Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center is carrying on with the floor-by-floor dismantling of the old hospital, which opened in 1949.

External work recently got under way on the seven-story main building, with a full dismantling sheduled to be complete by year's end.

The hospital has remained vacant since Lourdes moved to its new campus at 4801 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy. in June 2011, and, according to Elisabeth Arnold, director of community relations at Lourdes, it's a bittersweet moment for community members.

"People from all over are calling, letting us know what the hospital meant to them. You'd be surprised what we hear," Arnold says. The outpouring of memories range from mothers recalling births of their children and families with loved ones treated for trauma in the emergency and operating rooms to people simply concerned with what will happen to the plot of land in the Saint Streets area.

"The amount of money we are paying per month to maintain the campus and upkeep is expensive. We were spending up to $70,000 per month to maintain parts of the structure. There is more interest in the property than the building," says Arnold. The building would have required extensive repairs for new investors, she says, so it's more appealing as one of the largest plots of land in the Saint Streets neighborhood.

Lourdes is looking at multiple options for the site (we're pulling for UL Lafayette), but no decisions have been made. For now, says Arnold, it will just be green space once the land is cleared.

Our Lady of Lourdes continues to operate offices in adjacent medical office buildings and has continued to utilize this space during the dismantling.

Photo by: Kari Walker