Before I get into the details of this update, let me share this. Louisianans care for each other.

Across the state, regardless of political persuasion or position, I have found people who care for others and who want what is best for those who are hurting. State officials and state departments are not antagonistic towards people with needs. The staff of the Department of Health and Hospitals, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Governor’s office, and the legislature are citizens like each of us. They care for children who cannot live at home for reasons of abuse or neglect or because they have significant behavioral or emotional needs that cannot be addressed without out-of-home care.

In other words, there are no bad guys in all of this. This is a difficult time in Louisiana. The issues Louisiana faces are not about whether people care for each other. We do. The impending closure of Southeast Louisiana Hospital is not happening because decisions are being made by people apathetic to the needs of others. During the last few years I have spent a lot of time in meetings in Baton Rouge and across Louisiana where DHH, DCFS, DOE, and OJJ staff and others have struggled to design and build a behavioral healthcare system that will work well for Louisiana’s citizens. I’ve never had reason to leave a meeting and think, “gosh, these folks don’t care.” They do.


The planned closure of Southeast Louisiana Hospital (SELH) continues to stir interest and questions. Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals announced the closure in a press release on July 13. We received our notification of the closure from SELH on August 1, stating, “At this time, it is anticipated that Methodist will be able to remain on grounds until the end of June 2013. Please be aware that many of these plans are still being finalized and may be subject to change.” However, the hospital intends “to continue dietary operations until some time in January 2013.” The letter suggests we, “be aware that many of these plans are still being finalized and may be subject to change.”

While the plans are subject to change, the best case for planning purposes is that we would be able to remain on the grounds until June of 2013. However, without the food services which will cease in January, we need to find a new location by the end of 2012.

We are following leads

We are receiving tips from supporters and stakeholders who are sharing information via our web site. We’re also receiving information by phone and email. The region’s state senators, representatives and parish officials are being very helpful, too.

On September 6, United Methodists from among the 60+ churches in the New Orleans district are meeting to ask questions and share information regarding the children’s temporary home and possible locations for a permanent facility. With the strong support we have in the region, I believe we will find a new location in the short time we have.

Mrs. Marlin Giacona, Director of Methodist Home for Children, is pursuing every lead we gather for a new transitional location. We have already ruled out several locations because of facility quality or design limitations. She has appointments to look at potential sites next week. Like anything that must happen quickly, the more options there are, the more likely we will find a good one. Please continue sharing your tips about possible sites!

Magellan of Louisiana, the statewide management organization which is responsible for managing the care of children in Louisiana’s Coordinated System of Care, is supportive of our efforts to remain in the region. After we cross this particular hurdle and find a new place to call “home”, we will continue pursuing licensure by DHH for our residential services.

Once we’ve done that we will begin expanding our home and community-based services in the region. An example of how we have begun our effort to increase prevention and early intervention resources in communities, is the new Family Plus/MST program we have kicked off in Lake Charles. We expect to increase similar services in the New Orleans region.

Become informed

You can read the following articles and press releases to learn more. They illustrate how fluid this situation is and how difficult it is to predict the future.

Aug 17
Southeast Louisiana Hospital may be kept open, St. Tammany president says

Aug 16
St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister hopes a private company will take over operations at Southeast Louisiana Hospital

Aug 14
DHH Outlines Plan to Establish Sustainable Behavioral Health Care Services for Louisiana Residents

Aug 12
Plan to close Southeast Louisiana Hospital ruffles feathers in St. Tammany

Jul 24
As mental hospital closure looms near Mandeville, bed shortage felt across U.S.

Jul 22
Southeast Louisiana Hospital’s closure will have lasting impact

Jul 13
Louisiana cuts Medicaid program to the bone

DHH Announces Reduction Plan to Address Drop in Louisiana’s Federal Medicaid Matching Rate

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