April 14th, 2008
10:28 AM ET

Health care in New Orleans

By Danielle Dellorto

Nearly three years after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the city continues to push forward toward rebuilding.

One area that's still struggling is the city's health-care system.  Many hospitals have closed, leaving the remaining institutions to pick up the overflow of patients.

Now, the CEOs of five of the largest health-care institutions in New Orleans are joining forces -pleading to Congress for financial aid.  Pre-Katrina the hospitals profited $12 million a year; today they tell CNN they're in the red-projecting an annual loss of more than $135 million.

So what does this mean for the people of New Orleans?  Patients are subject to long ER wait times, hospital beds are nearly maxed out and a shortage of doctors and nurses is limiting patient access to specialists.

CNN has been in New Orleans investigating this story. We visited one inner-city hospital whose ER beds were nearly full by 8 a.m.  We talked to a 71-year-old man who had been sitting in the waiting room for more than 14 hours.  And according to hospital executives, his situation is more the norm than the exception.

New Orleans residents are concerned. A 2007 survey (See study) reveals that nearly 9 in 10 feel there are not enough hospitals or medical centers to take care of them.

Now we want to hear from you. Do you think access to health care in New Orleans is worse than in your hometown?

Programming note: Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's investigation of the state of health care in New Orleans on Anderson Cooper 360 on April 29.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.