Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Alan Levine and Children’s Hospital, New Orleans today announced an expansion of available inpatient mental health capacity for children in the Greater New Orleans area.

Currently operating 18 beds, Children’s has hired the required staff to increase its inpatient capacity to 24 beds. Additionally, Children's license of 34 inpatient mental health beds is double that of a year ago. This means that Children’s can expand into an additional 10 beds as needed.  The newly staffed inpatient mental health beds will also serve children covered by Medicaid, so services will be available for vulnerable populations. 

"I want to thank Children’s Hospital for being a great partner with the state," Levine said. "This partnership demonstrates that the state does not have to act alone to provide a high-quality continuum of care for our citizens. We have good providers who want to serve these populations, and public institutions are not the only way. This additional capacity comes at a far lower cost to the taxpayers than our traditional public institutional settings."

Levine also thanked Representative Walt Leger (D) New Orleans. "Representative Leger has been a thoughtful local leader who clearly is passionate about the needs of children in the Greater New Orleans area," Levine said.  "I appreciate his effective advocacy."

"The most important thing is that we make sure the capacity exists to serve the needs of children in our community," said Representative Leger. "It should comfort local families to know this capacity is being added right here in New Orleans."

"Children’s Hospital has been providing inpatient adolescent psychiatric services for more than two years in response to the limited mental health services available post Katrina," said Brian Landry, Vice President, Marketing, of Children’s Hospital. "We are pleased to jointly announce with LDH the availability of expanded inpatient behavioral health services on our Calhoun Campus."

The partnership with Children’s is the latest in a series of steps taken by the state over the last year to expand and transform the system of mental health care in New Orleans and the state.

The state has invested millions of dollars in outpatient, home- and community-based mental health services in GNO, including reopening outpatient clinics in New Orleans that were closed after Katrina, expanding public Multisystemic Therapy and Functional Family Therapy programs, and launching 24-hour Child and Adolescent Response Teams for children and teens in mental health crisis.

The public mental health system in New Orleans is now treating more than 1,000 people and hundreds of families through the community-based services added over the past year.

This is important because early diagnosis and intervention for children with mental illness or disorders is critical to providing them with appropriate treatment and services needed to live a productive life, and studies show these services are most often best provided in outpatient settings—including the patient’s home in some cases.

The addition of inpatient beds at Children’s Hospital will help ensure that hospital-based care is available in the community when needed, and that affected children and their families will have continued access throughout the treatment process.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.

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