Plan scrapped for psychiatric facility that could house ‘dangerous’ mentally ill patients in North Baton Rouge
Harmony Behavioral Health Center has decided not to move ‘dangerous’ mentally ill adults into a facility in North Baton Rouge.
In a statement, the company said, “Last week, Harmony Behavioral Health Center administrators were informed of a planned community meeting regarding the opening of its facility at 7414 Sumrall in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After much discussion, prayer, and consideration of the community’s concerns, Harmony Behavioral Health Center has made the decision not to place patients directly transferred from East Louisiana Mental Health System at 7414 Sumrall. We have continued to listen to the community and stakeholders. As such, we convened a meeting with area elected officials before concluding that this decision may be in the best interest of everyone affected. Our priority is the safety and well-being of our patients, staff, and neighbors. Access to inpatient behavioral care is a challenge nationally and at the state level. Last year, the Louisiana Department of Health Launched an initiative to expand inpatient behavioral care. The Harmony Center will continue to address the mental health needs of our citizens as we have done for over 40 years. As more information becomes available, we will provide updates.”
A meeting is still expected to take place on Saturday, Jan. 21 at Forest Heights Academy.
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There is growing concern about a proposed mental health hospital coming to North Baton Rouge.
The new facility could be placed in the Glen Oaks neighborhood right next to Forest Heights Academy of Excellence and blocks away from Glen Oaks High School.
But it’s who could be housed there that now has lawmakers involved.
According to forms submitted to the Louisiana Department of Health, the facility would be an intermediate psychiatric facility with 118 beds.
They would take in the severely and persistently mentally ill adult population, including “Those who are forensically involved with aggressive/dangerous behaviors, and who have been civilly committed subsequent to being found un-restorable incompetent to proceed to trial.”
Sandra Collins’ home is right across the street from Central Specialty Plaza, which would come become the home of the new facility.
“It’s pretty quiet, we have neighborhood watch with the police back and forward, so I’m pretty pleased with that,” said Collins.
She’s lived in the Glen Oaks area for 17 years and has concerns about the proposed facility.
“Really, I done lost some sleep over it, you know looking out the window, coming to the window, making sure things are safe around here and stuff,” said Collins.
The news has spread quickly across North Baton Rouge, from neighbors to state lawmakers.
“My main concern would be the security. How strong the security will be. I don’t think that’s a good spot for that, I don’t agree with that,” said Paula Hills, a neighbor.
“I don’t think this is the ideal place for this kind of facility, and I’m not in favor of that,” said State Senator Regina Barrow, District 15.
Metro Councilman Darryl Hurst says all he was told back in December, was that it was going to be a healthcare facility that would bring high-paying jobs to the area.
“It’s a mentally ill facility, it’s not a prison, so there’s not barbed wires. These are people who may have been tried for serial killing and serial rape but were not fit to go through a trial process, so they were sent to an establishment that could house them,” said Hurst.
The facility is right next door to Forest Highs Academy, prompting concerns from parents and educators as well.
“I don’t think it’s a right fit for our district, I don’t think it’s a right fit for the community. But more so, I don’t think it’s the right fit to be next to a school in any district, not just in my district,” said Councilman Hurst.
We’re told the operator of the proposed facility is Collis Temple Jr.
WAFB tried to reach him multiple times on Tuesday, January 17, to learn more about his plans for the facility, but did not hear back from him.
“Everyone that knows me, knows I’ve been a strong advocate for individuals with mental health. But I believe putting a facility of this magnitude in a community, where to me is just kind of creating a recipe for disaster,” said Senator Barrow.
Now neighbors are left wondering what this facility means for their future in the community.
“If they do, I think I’ll move. It’s not worth the risk, it’s not worth my life,” said Collins.
WAFB’s Lester Duhe’ spoke with EBR School Board President Dadrius Lanus, who believes there is nothing legally the school system can do about it. But, he says officials are weighing all their options right now to see if they can work with the property owner to mitigate the issue.
To learn more about the Request for Information about the proposed facility from the Department of Health, click here.
A community meeting will take place Saturday, January 21 at 10:00 a.m. at Forest Heights Academy.
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