The Department of Health announced today it will close the New Orleans Home nursing home by the fall of 2005. The announcement follows recommendations made to the agency as it developed its draft Long Term Care Report that was presented to Gov. Blanco’s Health Care Reform Panel last year.

LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise said the state has recommended and encouraged the conversion, diversification and downsizing of private nursing facilities, and that it makes sense for the state to lead this effort.

“Since we are pushing the private nursing home industry to diversify their services, this is the right thing for the state to do,” Cerise stated. “Although this home is well-run, there is not a justification for the state to be in the business of operating public nursing facilities.”

Cerise said that over the next several months, LDH will begin planning for the safe transition of the residents of New Orleans Home to private nursing facilities in the New Orleans area. The home currently has approximately 135 residents and 142 staff.

Cerise said to the extent possible, residents will be provided complete freedom of choice as they move to other nursing facilities. In addition, the high turnover rate at New Orleans home (48 percent annually) will allow for a natural reduction in census at the home.

“There is ample capacity in the private sector to meet the needs of the residents who live at the New Orleans Home,” Cerise said. “These individuals have medical needs similar to those in private nursing facilities. We feel very comfortable that they can be transitioned to other nearby facilities, and not disrupt their lives or the lives of their loved ones.”

Cerise stressed that due to the cost of transition; the move to close New Orleans Home may not save money this year but will save money in future years. Currently, the daily rate paid to care for an individual at New Orleans Home is $128.94 while the standard rate LDH pays for private nursing homes is $98.64 per day.

The Division of Administration has told LDH that funding for New Orleans Home will not be included in the executive budget. The budget will allow for some transition funding that will enable the movement of residents to other area facilities. Funding will allow for no more than a six-month transition period.

In addition, LDH will work with Civil Service and the Department of Labor to identify potential jobs for current employees of New Orleans Home, in both the private and public sector. This will include identifying vacancies in other nearby health care facilities in which current New Orleans Home staff would qualify.

Closing the New Orleans Home was identified as an Immediate Action (4.3) item in Louisiana’s Draft Plan: Providing Long Term Care Choices for the Elderly and People with Disabilities.