Today, Department of Health Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein and Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields announced a new future for inpatient behavioral health care in Central Louisiana with a two-phased plan to vacate the current Central State Hospital property and build a new facility on land adjacent to Pinecrest Supports and Services Center.
"We know that Central State Hospital has been a focal point of the Pineville community for many years, and we are proud to stand here with Mayor Fields today to announce this plan that preserves these inpatient services in Central Louisiana while also providing the local community new and exciting opportunities," Secretary Greenstein said. "This is a win-win for all involved. Over the years, as we have expanded opportunities for community-based treatment for people with mental health challenges, the need for the expansive nature of a facility like Central continues to decline, yet we haven't changed our model for institutional care. Today, that changes."
Mayor Fields said, "We sincerely appreciate and embrace the opportunity that this announcement means for the future of Pineville. My primary objective has always been to protect the jobs and services Central State Hospital has offered since 1906. With the changing face of health care as we know it, I am pleased to say that this plan secures those jobs and services that are important to our community and our region.
"I look forward to working with LDH, the Governor's Office and Louisiana Economic Development on how best to utilize this prime piece of property in Downtown Pineville. While we have been discussing this possibility for the last couple of years, now is the time to work together to secure the greatest economic benefit possible.
"With the new four-lane Fort Buhlow Bridge, a new four-lane highway, and easy accessibility from Alexandria and I-49, today's decision is a huge win for all of Central Louisiana."
Central Louisiana State Hospital is the free-standing inpatient facility that provides acute, intermediate and long-term mental health care, treatment and rehabilitative services to children, adolescents and adults in Central Louisiana.
In 1959, the facility's patient population peaked when it was serving 3,128 individuals. Today, as Central has 60 beds, many of the campus's 84 buildings are vacant and falling into disrepair, making it financially unfeasible to maintain them. Seeing the potential to make better use of this property for the entire community, members of the Pineville community approached LDH several months ago to discuss the future of Central State Hospital and the 400 acres of prime land it sits on.
LDH employed an architect to examine several different options that enabled it to ensure those resources would remain in the community. The architect presented LDH with six different options. Based on cost feasibility, long-term stability and viability, as well as the needs and wishes of the local community, LDH chose a two-phased approach to the future of Central.
"We recognize there is a need for inpatient residential-level services for people with mental illness in Central Louisiana, and we are committed to making sure they remain in the local community," said LDH Secretary Greenstein.
In the first phase, which begins immediately and will last through the current fiscal year, LDH is consolidating the current Central campus into the northeast corner. Residents will continue to receive the same quality services, but from a clinical perspective, the consolidation will make these services more easily accessible, eliminating the need to transport residents across campus for medical, clinical, entertainment and vocational needs.
Additionally, using the land more efficiently frees up property and opens a critical dialogue in the community about how to best use the available space. Lastly, the consolidation will save taxpayer dollars by consolidating staff and security into a single area of campus, as well as cut down on some maintenance costs.
In the second phase, LDH will build a new building on property it already owns and maintains adjacent to Pinecrest along with using already vacant buildings that will be refurbished for ancillary services. The new Central Louisiana State Hospital will remain separate and apart from Pinecrest. Central will retain its name, identity and function. Each facility must maintain its independent clinical functions, staffs and supports to keep its accreditation.
The cost of building the new facility will be $6 million and will be funded through Capital Outlay funds. Construction on the new building is expected to last between a year and a year and a half, at which time the current Central property will be completely vacated.
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. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog at www.myhealthla.org, Twitter and search for the Louisiana Department of Health on Facebook.