Facility housing ‘aggressive’ mentally ill adults could open soon in North BR, councilman says; school board consults lawyers

Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 10:42 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There are more questions than answers surrounding the proposed 118-bed psychiatric facility possibly on its way to North Baton Rouge.

The facility would take over the Central Specialty Plaza next door to Forest Heights Academy of Excellence and just blocks away from Glen Oaks High School.

According to forms submitted to the Louisiana Department of Health, the facility would take in the severely and persistently mentally ill adult population, including “Those who are forensically involved with aggressive/dangerous behaviors,” and are incompetent to stand trial.

Purpose of RFI.
Purpose of RFI.(WAFB)

“I’ve literally probably had two or three hundred conversations in the past ten days, there’s only been one person in support of it,” said Councilman Darryl Hurst, district 5.

And now, Hurst believes the facility could open its doors, sooner rather than later.

“The facility was slated, or is slated to open February 1,” said Hurst.

“I think here the question is, should a facility of this sort be placed in such close proximity to any school in our parish, our any school within our state,” said Dadrius Lanus, EBR School Board President, district 2.

Lanus represents the district and says the matter has already been brought up to the school board’s legal team and attorneys with no luck.

“There was nothing that we could find that we could actually do to stop this from happening, it was already in progression and it’s just kind of where it was,” said Lanus.

“Do you think a facility like this would be placed on the south side of Baton Rouge,” questioned WAFB’s Lester Duhe’.

“I don’t think so,” Lanus replied.

Lanus says conversations are ongoing with the owner of the facility about if there are any other better locations out there besides next door to an elementary school.

“I’m confident that maybe we can get something accomplished here. But again, you know, it’s a two-way street you know, we can only come to the table with an option, but it has to be accepted,” said Lanus.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome released a statement about the proposed facility:

“While addressing the mental health issues we face in our city is important, we cannot sacrifice the quality-of-life concerns of the community.  I’m glad there is a public meeting scheduled.  I look forward to learning more about the proposal and hearing from the citizens in the area.”

That public meeting will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at Forest Heights Academy of Excellence.

To learn more about the Request for Information about the proposed facility from the Department of Health, click here.

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