Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation, and Mary Hand, the chair of the Hospital Service District of St. Bernard Parish, sign an agreement through which the Meraux Foundation is donating an additional 8.9 acres of land to the Hospital Service District of St. Bernard Parish.
Photo Courtesy of the Meraux Foundation
By Todd Ragusa
Representatives signed an agreement recently through which the Meraux Foundation is donating an additional 8.9 acres of land to the Hospital Service District of St. Bernard Parish. This is the second swath of land the Meraux Foundation has donated to bring high-quality healthcare to the area, totaling 20.5 acres valued at more than $5 million.
“We are thrilled to fulfill the commitment we made to help bring a public hospital to St. Bernard Parish, and this additional land donation will further advance a vision for the area that will improve healthcare, grow the economy, and ultimately, make our community an even better place in which to live and work,” said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation.
Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, St. Bernard Parish was in desperate need of healthcare facilities. The Meraux Foundation stepped up and donated land that allowed for the world-class $70 million St. Bernard Parish Hospital to be built.
This second donation of adjacent land will be used for ancillary services. Both land donations tie into a broader strategy for the area that includes healthcare, housing, retail, and amenities to stimulate the local economy and improve the quality of life for residents.
“We are so grateful to the Meraux Foundation for first making St. Bernard Parish Hospital possible and now this latest land donation. It will allow our team to carry the mission forward by providing high-quality and cost-effective healthcare services for the residents of St. Bernard Parish and as the facility continues to grow,” said Mary Hand, the chair of the Hospital Service District of St. Bernard Parish.
St. Bernard Parish Hospital is a public hospital owned by the people of St. Bernard Parish and managed by Ochsner Health. The facility is the third-largest employer in St. Barnard Parish and provides more than $20 million in economic impact to the Parish.
The land donation nearly coincides with Ochsner’s four-year anniversary managing the hospital. During this time, St. Bernard Parish Hospital has made significant improvements to the quality of care delivered locally, has created new options for care within the community and has expanded services and developed new health programs to enhance wellness.
Since 2019, the hospital has maintained a positive cash flow, which has allowed the Hospital Service District and Ochsner Health to reinvest more than $10 million to upgrade equipment, including but not limited to: replacing 60% of the facility’s radiology equipment, all state-of-the-art hospital beds and installation of the latest cardiac monitoring system at the bedside as well as anesthesia equipment for the operating rooms, the conversion to EPIC, a world-leading electronic medical record program, and various telehealth and digital health advancements to improve patient safety outcomes.
“This is a major milestone in the history of St. Bernard Parish,” said Kim Keene, the chief executive officer, St. Bernard Parish Hospital. “I’m grateful to the Meraux Foundation for being a wonderful partner, for their vision, and for their fidelity to their mission to improve the quality of life for the people in our community.”
In addition to the customary functions of foundations, the Meraux Foundation manages, maintains, and preserves extensive and diverse properties. Its land donations, like those to the Hospital Service District, are part of a dynamic strategy to ensure that the development of the Meraux Foundation’s land holdings have lasting improvements to various aspects of the community. The Meraux Foundation intends to preserve natural environments while pushing St. Bernard Parish ahead using smart-growth and sustainable development principles.
To date, it has donated land for public need, such as for the hospital, the Arlene Meraux Elementary School, and a sheriff’s substation; made real estate impact investments to spur economic development; and leveraged property to fund its charitable activities, including an annual scholarship program. These activities all advance the Meraux Foundation’s mission to improve the quality of life for all St. Bernard Parish residents.