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Coroner: BR General could be new home for mental health

1 year 9 months 1 week ago February 24, 2015 Feb 24, 2015 Tuesday, February 24 2015 February 24, 2015 5:13 PM in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Alexa Vogue

BATON ROUGE - East Baton Rouge Coroner Beau Clark says mental health issues have reached crisis levels and  opening a mental health facility needs to be a priority.

At a meeting Tuesday, he said the new home for mental health should be Baton Rouge General Mid City, explaining that the design location and cost make it a viable option.

"We have folks that have mental health problems that need the ability to be stabilized," Dr. Clark said.

He believes opening a mental health facility would immediately open beds at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison and free up space in area emergency rooms.

"The best part about it is people will get taken care of, not in jail, not locked up," Dr. Clark said. "But they're actually getting mental health care."

One of the biggest problems has been finding a place to put a facility, and a way to fund it after the Baton Rouge Metro Council turned down a tax that would have put more than $20 million toward a new facility.

"There's a facility that's right in the middle of town that's about to become available, Baton Rouge General Mid City," Dr. Clark said. "I think it's inevitable they're shutting down."

Clark says the Baton Rouge Area Foundation has been meeting with doctors around the city to devise a plan for the possible transformation of Baton Rouge General's Emergency Room and thinks it is the logical option for the soon-to-be empty space.

Only time will tell if the closing of the emergency room doors will eventually bring relief to the mentally ill, but Coroner Clark thinks the possibility is definitely on the horizon.

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