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."
Central has operated at its site, nestled between what is now Buhlow Lake and downtown Pinevile, since 1906.
"I look forward to working with DHH, the Governor's Office and Louisiana Economic Development on how best to utilize this prime piece of property. 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.
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, 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 DHH several months ago to discuss the future of Central State Hospital and the 400 acres it sits on.
DHH employed an architect to examine several different options that enabled it to ensure those resources would remain in the community. The architect presented DHH with six different options. Based on cost feasibility, long-term stability and viability, as well as the needs and wishes of the local community, DHH 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 DHH Secretary Greenstein.
In the first phase, which begins immediately and will last through the current fiscal year, DHH 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, DHH 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.