A reporter from the Times-Picayune called me yesterday afternoon. He asked me how we will respond to the closure of Southeast Louisiana State Hospital.

Last week, faced with horrid cuts in Medicaid revenue from the federal government, Bruce Greenstein, Secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals, announced a response that includes “phasing down operations” of Southeast Louisiana State Hospital by moving patient bed capacity to three different locations. Newspapers have reported it as the “closure” of Southeast Louisiana State Hospital.

The reporter and I had a nice chat. I shared that the staff of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals have an awful, heart-wrenching task. They must juggle the business of financial administration with the work of caring for Louisiana’s neediest children and citizens. I shared that Methodist Home for Children has an incredible team of staff members in Mandeville who love their work and who are doing excellent ministry with children who cannot live at home or in foster care.

I shared too that we have not received any notice of closure from DHH. I also speculated that closure might mean a couple of things for us. It may mean simply the transfer of DHH beds to other locations or it may mean the real closure of every building on the campus. It’s too early to know.

He suggested he believes “closure” means the latter – the shut down of the entire facility and termination of our lease. He asked what our response would be. I told him I expect there would be a transition process. God is in control of the universe. Children cannot be dumped on the street. We will continue to care for children. If we are evicted, we will find another location. Look hard enough and you see life is full of options.

I woke up this at 3:30 this morning feeling like our kids at Methodist Home for Children of Greater New Orleans are about to be re-Katrina-ed. DHH has not provided us a statement so I do not know what will happen.

However, if it occurs, we will find a way to continue caring for children in the southeast region of Louisiana. The greater New Orleans area is Louisiana’s largest population center but has the fewest residential services for abused children of any region in the state.

What I know is this: we care for children who cannot live at home because of physical or sexual abuse or neglect and we do it well. We’re there. Methodist Home for Children survived Katrina. We will continue pursuing our mission.

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