DHH closes mental unit

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 10:12pm

The closing today of the Greenwell Springs mental health unit meant 17 state workers are now unemployed, but according to DHH officials, that number could've been a lot worse.

The building is empty and all the patients were relocated to Jackson, La.

Mid-year budget cuts forced DHH to close the facility and transfer the 47 patients to the Jackson location.

Those 17 state workers are now unemployed, but officials say 42 employees were originally slated to be laid off. Many of them were able to transfer jobs to the Jackson facility.

DHH said this decision allows taxpayers to save $600,000 this year, and $2 million every year after, while still providing the same level of care the patients need.

"Because it's larger with larger client population, you have additional psychiatrists that'll be available, even more frequently than at Greenwell Springs," said Kathy Kliebert, DHH deputy secretary. "Clients will be served at same level."

With the additional patients moving to Jackson, that campus will now hold about 650 state mental health patients.

No word yet on what the vacant building in Greenwell Springs will now be used for. The state is looking at its options.

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