Rick Wheat, President and CEO
Rick Wheat, President and CEO
2012 will be a year of change for Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services – and the more things change, the more they remain the same.

We entered this year knowing our state’s new Coordinated System of Care, which kicks off on March 1, will require us to meet new licensing standards for our residential services in Ruston, Mandeville and Sulphur.

Under Louisiana’s new licensing rules, the number of children for whom we care and their significant emotional and behavioral needs require each of our campuses to become licensed under the Department of Health and Hospitals’ new Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) license.

I know the word "psychiatric" on the front of "residential treatment facility" may give some people pause. In this case, however, it should not. What Louisiana is doing by creating a Coordinated System of Care for children will be a good thing. But like all new things, it generates questions.

One of the common questions is this: Are the Methodist children’s homes becoming psychiatric hospitals?

The answer is, No. Our children’s homes are NOT becoming psychiatric hospitals. We will continue providing residential services to children.

Another frequent question is, "will you change your names?" Again, the answer is, No. We are not changing our names.

We are and we will be Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home in Ruston, Methodist Home for Children of Greater New Orleans in Mandeville and Methodist Children’s Home of Southwest Louisiana in Sulphur. We pursue the same mission. We are who we are.

Because we have always sought to provide care for the neediest children in Louisiana, we frequently care for children whose needs and behaviors challenge our abilities. This dynamic tension between what children need and what we have done to meet their needs has certainly enhanced our expertise through the years.

Louisiana’s new licensing standards will help us add resources to meet the increasing needs of the children for whom we care. They will help us flex our ministry muscles as we enhance our residential services to children.

As they were being written, DHH’s Health Standards Section asked for our feedback regarding these standards and our suggestions have been woven into the PRTF Minimum Licensing Standards. These PRTF standards are the result of a healthy collaboration. They are well-written and they protect children.

I believe these standards will raise the bar for all who provide residential care for Louisiana’s emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children. As one who is concerned for children, you can feel good about the work Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals has put into creating solid standards of care.

Of course, with new licensing regulations comes change. We must change a few things to become licensed by DHH.

The most significant of the changes we will make are those related to routine medical care. In a nutshell, instead of taking our children to see a doctor, after March 1 we must bring the doctors, dentists, optometrists, physical therapists, and equipment such as dental chairs and x-ray machines to our children. The new rules require that we provide all non-emergency medical care in our own facilities.

We are working diligently in Ruston, Mandeville and Sulphur to make arrangements with physicians and other medical personnel in our communities to do this for our children. While it’s a bit of a struggle to set up quickly, I do look forward to the convenience of having our medical services provided on campus.

Now I’ll tell why I began by saying, "the more things change, the more they remain the same". We once had an old clinic on our campus in Ruston where we cared for ill children. This year, 2012, the past becomes the present again as we open a medical clinic at Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home.

Whether past, present and future, what you can be comfortable knowing is that we remain very focused on achieving our mission to guide children and families home to experience God’s love by following the teachings of Christ. That’s who we have been, it is who we are and it is who we will be.

Thank you for loving the Home! All 420 of us appreciate your active interest in our ministry, your prayers for us as we pursue our mission, and your support of our work to share the love of God with Louisiana’s children and families.

As always, I ask you to pray for us!

Rick Wheat
President and CEO
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services