Baton Rouge --- After more than 15 years of funding requests, the Department of Health has obtained the money to begin construction of a new LDH Office of Public Health laboratory. LDH received $2.8 million in the Capital Outlay Bill to begin construction of a new facility in April 2004.

 “We are excited to finally begin construction on this much-needed facility,” said LDH Secretary David W. Hood. “The face of public health has changed dramatically in the past decade, and we need this new facility to ensure our state is as well-prepared as possible to meet the needs of a disease outbreak or bioterror threat.”

 The current lab was built in 1957 and is located on two stories of the State Office Building in New Orleans. That facility needs many updates to sufficiently meet the needs of public health today. The building is old and not equipped to meet the disease detection and surveillance needs that would occur with an emerging disease threat or a bioterrorism attack.

 The new lab will be built on the University of New Orleans campus. The State estimates construction costs will total $23 million; however, the total funding will not be available during this fiscal year. Construction is expected to last 18-24 months.