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Abramson announces New Orleans adolescent hospital sale to Children’s

29th April 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Christopher Tidmore
Contributing Writer

The Jindal Administration’s hell-bent desire to sell state hospitals—and use the one time money to plug holes in the state budget—may have proven a net benefit to restoring adolescent psychiatric services, in New Orleans at least.

State Rep. Neil Abramson’s four year quest to restore teen mental hospital care came to head in the wake of a House committee hearing on Wednesday. And, now thanks to a deal cut with Children’s Hospital, it may come to pass.

Abramson told this newspaper that an agreement has been reached with Children’s Hospital whereby the existing lease for the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital (NOAH) property will be converted to a sale, and as part of the deal, Children’s will provide many of the services NOAH once did.

In an interview with The Louisiana Weekly, Abramson said, “It is important to the entire community that that these services be provided locally, and that Children’s will now have the re?sources to add desperately needed care.”

Mainly, due to the fact that instead of leasing the NOAH property for 99 years, as the hospital originally contracted, they will be able to purchase it for a cheaper price, though one all up front. This provides the Jindal Administration will a quick influx of cash to help ameliorate the terrible budgetary situation, and will hopefully allow Children’s to provide extensive additional mental health services for children and adolescents, to include. At least they have contracted to provide more in-patient beds, a new program to treat children from birth to five years, an expanded autism program, and a transitional program from in-patient to out-patient services.

The State also agreed to re-allocate almost $10 million which was set aside last year for NOAH and related mental health care facilities to Children’s Hospital. In ex?change, Children’s Hospital will in good faith consider and plan additional services, including: Drug and alcohol addiction programs, Day treatment services, Longer-term in-patient care with educational and therapeutic services, and devices for children in the juvenile justice program.

Abramson had originally thought he had a deal with Children’s to provide these services as part of the lease deal with the Tchoupitoulas-based hospital. Children’s had stated that the terms of the lease it signed were too restrictive and it did not intend to use the NOAH buildings or match the services required in the lease and in Abramson’s original legislation.

The long-term 99-year lease previously executed by Children’s Hospital for the NOAH property will be converted to a sale, with $4 million paid up front, and another $25 million transferred when the 99-year lease is officially canceled.

The agreement requires Children’s to provide a variety of mental health services, including adding 16 in-patient beds for children and adolescents to the 34 it already operates on its campus on Calhoun Street. The hospital would have to add still more beds if those reach 90 percent occupancy.

Those services would be provided at Children’s existing campus on Calhoun Street. The NOAH site, which is adjacent to the Children’s campus on Henry Clay Avenue, would be used for clinics and surgical centers.

Abramson still hopes for a full restoration of the in-patient services that NOAH once provided, relieving many parents of troubled teens from driving to mental hospitals in Mandeville and Alexandria. It is doubtful, however, that Children’s will provide the same level of service. Yet, Abramson noted, “It’s an improvement over what we have now.”

This article originally published in the April 29, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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