The Lower 9th Ward Health Clinic Opens To Serve The Medical Needs Of The Community

Press Advisory for:

March 1, 2007

For More Information:
Alice Craft-Kerney: 504-259-8279

The Lower 9th Ward Health Clinic Opens To Serve The Medical Needs Of The Community

NEW ORLEANS, LA – On Thursday, March 1, 2007, in response to the lack of medical services available to returning families, Lower 9th Ward residents are finally opening the doors to their new medical clinic located in the home of Patricia Berryhill, a registered nurse and former resident of the Lower 9 th Ward and will host a press conference.

What: Opening of the Lower 9th Ward Health Clinic

When: 10:30 am – 11:30 am, March 1st

Where: 5228 St. Claude Ave. at the corner of Egania St.

The Lower 9th Ward Health Clinic, a newly established primary care medical clinic, serving residents of the Lower 9 th Ward neighborhood in New Orleans, will host its opening on March 1, 2007.

The clinic will be the only health care provider for the Lower 9th Ward, and will also accept patients from surrounding neighborhoods. Since the storm, New Orleans has been struggling to reopen hospitals and critical healthcare services, leaving thousands of families with either no access to medical care or up to a fourteen-hour wait in an emergency room across town.

The Lower 9th Ward is one of the areas most heavily devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and its survival is dependent upon the return of essential services such as convenient access to quality health care providers for all residents, regardless of their ability to pay. Resident organizers supported by grassroots organizations and individuals from around the country have created strong and impacting solutions and are working on others projects all designed to ensure that the historic Lower 9th Ward enjoys a long and prosperous future.

Resident health care providers, Common Ground Lower 9th Ward Project and Leaders Creating Change Through Contribution have come together to provide medical services that are not accessible to the residents of the Lower 9th Ward and surrounding areas. The clinic is collaborating and partnering with St. Margaret's Daughters, California Nurse's Association, AARP, Tulane's New Orleans Children's Health Project and others, and has received invaluable legal and accounting assistance from McGlinchey Stafford, PLLC and Postlethwaite & Netterville, respectively. The clinic will fill many unmet needs of the communities it serves: volunteer healthcare professionals will augment staffing needs to provide high quality health care to all who need it, treating disaster related and chronic illnesses and mental health issues that otherwise would go untreated. For the present situation, the clinic will serve the returning residents of this community who would otherwise go without access to care.

"It is amazing what we can accomplish when we put all our talents and God-given gifts together for the betterment of our community. This is a time of reflection, but also a time of rebuilding. In the words of the prophet Nehemiah, "Let us rise up and build," said Alice Craft-Kerney, R.N., Executive Director of the Lower 9th Ward Health Clinic.

Despite the level of destruction, more and more residents are returning to their damaged or destroyed homes everyday, but they are struggling to survive and rebuild. Surrounded by flood debris, collapsed houses and toppled cars, parts of the neighborhood are still without electricity.

The Lower 9th Ward Health Clinic will be an anchor in rebuilding and relief efforts, working to strengthen the sense of community, with residents providing basic medical care to their fellow neighbors. The clinic will serve as the medical hub of the area, disseminating information and referrals, and well as, providing basic healthcare to the residents.

Specifically, the Lower 9th Ward Clinic aims to offer health support to treat a range of ailments including, but not limited to hypertension, stress, diabetes, cardiac conditions, minor trauma, plus treating respiratory illness and infections related to exposure to toxins from the flood. Soon, immunizations, help in registering for government programs (i.e., Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP, etc.), and pharmaceutical assistance for persons suffering from chronic illnesses will be provided through the clinic.

Available for interview:
Alice Craft-Kerney, R.N., a New Orleans resident with strong family and community ties to the Lower 9th Ward, lives in a FEMA trailer in New Orleans. Prior to receiving the trailer, she was living in the Lower 9th Ward on the second floor of her brother's flood-damaged home. Craft-Kerney, a nurse with 21 years' experience, led the effort to build a health clinic in her neighborhood, and will work there full-time as the executive director. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Craft-Kerney worked for 20 years as a registered nurse at Charity Hospital, which for generations served the city's poor until the floodwaters tore it apart. Although University Hospital has reopened, it has not expanded to full capacity to treat ambulatory patients.