Posted by: noadventure | August 18, 2014

Urban Ruin: Lindy Boggs Medical Center

Editor’s note: Yet another awesome post from Whitney Mackman (@wmackattack). Enjoy.

Lindy Boggs Medical Center Explorations
 
Like the Market Street Power Plant, the abandoned Lindy Boggs Medical Center dangles itself in front of me every time I run Bayou St. John. It just sits there, wearing the sad, dark brick, like it would do anything to shake such a burden. A chair dangles stubbornly over the edge of a blown out, third floor window. Dark green water sits silently under the Emergency ramp, harboring 9-year-old lily pads of mold. Mattresses, ones possibly used to transport patients above the floodwater, gather leaves near the main entrance.
 
water rampelevators
 
Forty-five people died at Lindy Boggs during and after Hurricane Katrina. When the power failed, the remaining patients were left in stifling heat without life support, crucial medicines, and blood. After the floodwaters rose, the sickest patients and pets were left behind with only three medical professionals. If those professionals didn’t stay, those patients would have been left behind to die, alone, in an empty hospital. I’m glad I didn’t know this during my first exploration, but I could definitely feel that kind of energy inside. Each place that lies abandoned cradles its story within its wall, however moldy and crumbling.
 
Lindy Boggs 9.5mattress
 
 
The damage sustained is shocking. I wandered the halls imagining nurses and doctors trying to find their way in this sweaty, pitch-black apocalyptic labyrinth. Boxes full of sterile syringes, test tubes, and IV needles sit untouched in their boxes above flood level. An x-ray table waits, with a lead apron casually dangling from a nearby counter, as if the next patient is about to walk in from the dressing room. But the creepiest was turning the corner to face a room that caught fire post-abandonment. The burnt paint chips, with their coal black bodies and gray tips, animated the wall. I couldn’t breathe for a moment, as if the room was still on fire, and I had to blink a few times to ensure the room was not engulfed in ghost flames. I take moments like these as my cue to leave.
 
xray 
 Lindy Boggs9
 
A few months after my first venture into Lindy Boggs and after reading Five Days at Memorial, I felt the urge to get inside one more time. A man pumped the nasty water out of the basement and told me gutting would begin once he was done. They have even painted over all the external graffiti tags. “Coming soon” was finally coming true. A slight panic rose within me: I still hadn’t made it to that third story window that  I always look at while running along Bayou St. John. Also, no one has seen the recently drained part of this hospital in years.
 
flooded basement
basement chair
 
After entering, we immediately went to the basement. The ground was red and squishy; the walls were still dripping wet. Above and below us, rust reigns. Trash rests in piles as if someone arranged it. Chairs, metal, gloves, and biohazard cartons stick out of the mud. This floor hasn’t had a breath of fresh air in far too long. I pulled my bandana off my nose for less than a second and knew instantly we had to get out of there.
 
room
medical 1
 
While hunting for my third story room in the dark maze, we happened upon creepy after creepy. All the beds are on the upper floors, crammed into rooms that still have white boards reading: “Today is August 29, your nurse is ____.” There are no mattresses and the bed frames are mangled in painful positions. In one room, a day-by-calendar reads “Today is Tuesday, August 30, 2005,” and tubes still run from the wall to the twisted bed frames. Down the hall at the nurse’s station, a white board announces the names of patients and their assigned nurses. Around the corner, water drips onto debris. It is so loud and rhythmic, it sounds like footsteps.
 
today is
nurses station
 
The graffiti is honestly the scariest part. The adrenaline I feel while exploring is full of wonder and shock. I experience only minimal pangs of horror – until my flashlight illuminates, written in classic horror-film-blood-dripping-font, “Are you scared yet?” Other graffiti is helpful, telling us which stairs lead to roof access or pointing out open and plunging elevator shafts. The horrific demon-faced caricatures, however, are not helpful. After finding the room I always look at from Bayou St. John, I enjoyed the gorgeous panoramic view of the city from the roof. However, my throat was getting itchy, and an itchy throat is also my cue to leave.
 
skyline 1
ER ramp
 
Lindy Boggs has been looming in my world for the past four years and I feel honored to be able to explore it. I want to help tell a story and spark interest in and anger for what happened to the people who remained in hospitals during and after Hurricane Katrina. The failure of response at all levels of state and government created situations that each doctor, patient, and family should never have to face. The choices they were forced to make are things we cannot forget.
 
For more information on Lindy Boggs, read:
 
 
 
 
For a similar story, read Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink.
 
For not-so-similar, but equally horrific stories, read: Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers,
and One Dead in the Attic by Chris Rose.
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Responses

  1. Glad someone made it up in here! I still drive past LB when I visit town, just to remind myself that shit wasn’t a dream.
    Mike- I am Jason Neville’s friend, Bonny. We met when I first moved to NO in 2002/3. Lindy Boggs was where I had an ultrasound that found dark shadows on my thyroid, the summer of Katrina. All files of my mystery thyroid illness are now gone forever, but luckily, so are the symptoms. I left NO in 2012, by way of Austin and now in Portland, but NO is in my blood now, so nostalgia leads me to stumbling upon websites like yours every now and again. All of this stuff is so cool. I’ll be following your adventures from over here. Take care. And get some masks!!!

  2. I am blessed because I didn’t take that night shift because I wouldn’t be alive today. I love my job at Lindy Boggs and if it wasn’t for my daughter I wouldn’t be here today. she forced me not to go to work by showing me how scared she was because of storm was coming. she also pack me a bag so we can leave and we did. Thank you Jesus!!! I still get chills just thinking about it. I would love to have my job back I love the people that I was working with. also love the patients that gave me hope.I just can’t help but think about the lost lives. I could have been one if not for my beautiful daughter. She save my life again!!!!

  3. So glad you took the time to post this!

    I tried to check it out in 2013, but the energy of the place had me too freaked out to go in. I watched the Paul Walker movie “Hours” recently and envisioned him to be in Lindy-Boggs (even though it most likely wasn’t filmed there).

    Thanks again for this 🙂

  4. I had a love one die in that building. She was to be evacuated but was one who first responder felt was too old to take with them. She was someone mother, grandmother and mother-in-law who was greatly loved and so missed. Love and Miss her so much.

  5. Too old ???!!! Disgusting! I hope those responders feel guilty

  6. Those responders were valiant and did the best they could under the harrowing conditions..Triage is important when taking care of a LARGE number of people. But let the people JUDGE each other???? what makes you so better Carolyn ? NOTHING! Quit hating on peeps. Very sorry for the death of your loved one Alex. But those medical responders did help other people.AND you can BET THEY do feel GUILTY for NOT saving everybody.

  7. I surveyed the buildings in November 2005 right after the flood. The consulting engineering company I worked for was hired to determine what damage had been done to the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing systems. We also provided a cost estimate for repairs. This is a project I will never forget. The sub basements held the hospital electrical panels and medical air and vacuum equipment. It was still partially flooded. Every morning we arrived at 6 am and dawned protective suits, boits and respirators. This was a serious hazmat situation. Although it had been abandoned for only a few months at this point the stench was horrific. To put flooding in perspective, the morgue coolers had been lifted from the flooding and had moved 4 feet from the wall! Everything in central supply, also in the basement, was now hanging from the pipes and ductwork above. Johnies, paper products, sheets. It looked like a bad Halloween event. The Sheetrock ceilings were on the floor. The doors that weren’t torn off their hinges from the flood water were rusted shut and required saws to gain access to the offices, kitchen and cafeteria, also in the basement. I will always remember that smell. Our group was from Massachusetts. We had never experienced a situation like this and what New Orleans heat and humidity can do to a building that has flooded. We had seen pictures on the news of the x’s on the doors, marking how many were in a room, animals and dead, water lines and the buses that remained idol during the hurricane and the following serge. Seeing it in person was overwhelming . Our report was 3 volumes each 4″ thick. The plan at that time was to rebuild the medical office building. The main hospital was planned to be demolished after the insurance was paid. Damage to everything above the first floor was minimal. The medical office building was being gutted and assessed for structural damage. I guess vandalism has been rampant since then.

  8. They are finally doing something to it!!! They are taking all of the crap out. Not sure what the future plans may be.


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