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Our Roots



Postcard of Charity Hospital circa: 1909

Tulane School of Medicine is one of the oldest institutions in the country and has been providing care for the citizens of New Orleans since 1834. When LSU School of Medicine opened in the 1940s, the two medical schools partnered to provide care to the underserved at Charity Hospital.

Picture of artwork in University Medical Center; Photo by Scott Threlkeld-Advocate News staff photo
Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Tulane Internal Medicine residents kept clinical operations running for the city of New Orleans in temporary hospitals and clinics for months. Charity Hospital was closed, but the “Spirit of Charity” never faltered. Like our wonderful city, the residency program pushed forward, highlighting its strength and resiliency in the wake of one of the United States’ most devastating natural disasters.

Today, Tulane residents are working to make an impact on the future of healthcare in the city of New Orleans with our presence at University Medical Center (new Charity Hospital), the New Orleans VA, and Tulane Medical Center. Now is an exciting time to become a part of the Tulane team.

The History of Charity Hospital

picture of the former Charity Hospital 2015
Former Charity Hospital, 2015          Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano

The Original Charity Hospital was founded in 1736 by a French shipbuilder to serve the poor and uninsured in the city. It was named Charity due to its links to the Catholic leadership, the Sisters of Charity. The original location was in the French Quarter and it stayed there all the way up until the 20th century. As New Orleans rapidly grew in the early 1900s, a new, larger Charity Hospital was built in 1936. This was a 2,680 bed Art Deco-style hospital and served as the largest safety-net hospital in the region clocking in at 1,000,000 square feet!

Charity Hospital was one of the longest continuously operating hospitals in the United States until Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Instead of renovating the structure, federal funds went to build University Medical Center (UMC). Charity Hospital still stands on Tulane Avenue as a reminder of its historical roots in the city and the millions of patients who were cared for there. We recommend the fascinating documentary, “Big Charity” that unravels the story of the original hospital’s closing and how UMC came to be.





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