Beacon of Hope

Robert Lynch steers post-Katrina recovery

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There were those who questioned whether New Orleans would ever recover from Hurricane Katrina. Alumnus Robert Lynch wasn’t one of them.

When the massive storm struck the city in 2005, Dr. Lynch was director of the South Central Veterans Affairs Health Care Network, overseeing hospitals in Louisiana and seven other states. Due to the catastrophic flooding caused by infrastructure failure in New Orleans, he had to evacuate more than 600 patients and employees from the city’s VA hospital.

Nobody was prepared for a disaster of that magnitude,” he says. “Nobody was prepared for the levees to fail or for the entire city to be evacuated. It took a lot of heroic efforts by a whole lot of people to get everyone out safely. The devastation was tremendous. It was a very chaotic time, but people rose to the challenge.”

Lynch graduated from UT Arlington in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, then enrolled in medical school at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. In August 2007 he became CEO of Tulane Medical Center in downtown New Orleans. Under his leadership, the facility has played an important role in the city’s rebuilding.

The city needed hope following what happened, and that’s one thing we’ve tried to provide,” he says.

With so many other New Orleans hospitals crippled or shuttered, Tulane has become the area’s main medical training facility. Those taught there are sent into the community to alleviate the significant shortage of medical professionals caused by Katrina.

At Tulane we’re trying to help heal the city, and we think we’re leading the way,” Lynch says. “The people who are here now are people who want to be here, and they’re making a difference. I think the future for New Orleans is bright.”

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