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Fate of ELMHS questioned

POSTED: Monday, March 1, 2010 - 4:19pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:00pm

The fate of the Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System is being questioned by folks in East Feliciana Parish.

A near $50 million cut to the Department of Health and Hospital's budget has many people thinking the facility will be forced to shut its doors soon.

Larry Thomas chairman of East Feliciana's economic development district says the Jackson system has been targetted by the DHH for years. Thomas believes the agency has been inflating the facilities expenditures to justify the hospital's closure.

Thomas says if the hospital is shut down it would be devastating to the parish. Not only would it leave around 200 mental patients with no place to go, it would also slash hundreds of jobs from a local economy that is already in shambles.

"It's devastating right now. If we lost ten jobs in East Feliciana it's bad but when youre talking over 600 jobs it affects us" says Thomas.

A spokesperson for DHH says that as of this fiscal year there are no plans to shut the hospital down. However, cuts are on the way.
DHH officials say budget constraints have them exploring a variety of options to save cash.