Evacuation shelters for people with special medical conditions only will be opened in three communities in Louisiana. These are shelters of last resort and are not for the general public.

By 3 p.m. this afternoon, these special shelters will be opened in Alexandria, Baton Rouge and Lafayette.

Special Needs Shelters are designed for individuals who are homebound, chronically ill or who have disabilities and are in need of medical or nursing care, and have no other place to receive care.

Those seeking shelter will be screened by nurses to determine the level of care needed. Only people who meet admission criteria can be sheltered. If their condition is too critical, they will be referred to a hospital for sheltering, or admission. If their condition is not severe enough for Special Needs Sheltering, they will be referred to a general shelter.

Citizens are encouraged to call telephone number in their area BEFORE attempting to access a shelter. These numbers are listed below.

New Orleans:  504-599-0100
Alexandria:  318-487-5262
Baton Rouge:  800-349-1372
Shreveport:  318-676-7470
Houma/Thibodaux:  800-228-9409 or 985-447-0916
Monroe:  318-361-7270 or 318-361-7224 or 318-361-7201
Lafayette:  337-262-5311
Lake Charles:  337-475-3200
Slidell/Hammond: 985-871-1300

Special Needs Shelters are not designed for the general public or for nursing home patients. Nursing homes in Louisiana are required to have emergency evacuation plans in place that ensure the health and safety of their residents. In most instances, these plans allow for homes in affected areas to transport their patients to nursing homes in areas safe from the storm.

Health officials note that if individuals have health problems that require medical expertise and must evacuate, it is best for them to go with family members or caretakers north to areas that are out of harm’s way. These shelters will provide medical support services only. Physician services will not be available. Because of limited staffing, those going to a Special Needs Shelter must have a caretaker to assist with ongoing support, and they should bring all necessary supplies including sheets, blankets and pillows.