Our Lady of the Lake eliminates detox beds, expands adolescent treatment
BATON ROUGE - Our Lady of the Lake hospital is eliminating its adult detox beds in the Tau Center in favor of increasing treatment for adolescents with mental health issues.
The Tau Center, the only facility in the Baton Rouge region with inpatient services for adolescents suffering from mental and behavioral health issues, has doubled its capacity from 14 to 28 adolescent beds. The Lake says its demand for mental health treatment is rapidly expanding in the community.
However, this leaves the adults looking to find a place for detox in a tough spot.
Joellien Sharon has spent more than two decades studying addiction and being an active certified counselor.
“There's always a concern for a number of services and availability of services, what they refer to as beds, is the need somewhere for these people to stay. Because the bottom line is, there is never enough,” Sharon said. “We are aware of where the opioid epidemic., and I don't want to be a drama queen about it, but people are literally dying, every day.”
Regardless of backlash from adults seeking detox and counseling, Behavioral and Health Executive Director Denise Dugas said the integration of 14 previously detox beds into the adolescent department came after a community assessment.
"The Tau Center is still open, we did convert some beds for our adolescent program... So we are expanding services,” Dugas said.
An OLOL spokesperson said the center is dedicated to the long-term stability of its mental and behavioral health program and is in the midst of $3.5 million project to renovate the Tau Center.
So far this year, the Tau Center’s adolescent mental and behavioral health unit saw 483 individuals admitted for an average of six days each, with the adolescent beds consistently filled to 100% capacity.
However, Sharon and other recovering addicts feel the shift came as a surprise.
“This was a business decision, I do believe there is a need for pediatric care, but I really have questioned the whole time how much thought was given to the existing population of addicts,” Sharon said.
Dugas countered that sentiment with numbers.
“There were months we were shipping up to 30 pediatric patients to Shreveport, Lafayette, and New Orleans. It was a detriment for families because they couldn't participate in their children’s care,” Dugas said.
The Tau Center is the only adolescent mental and behavioral health facility in the Baton Rouge Region. As for adults seeking drug addiction detox, OLOL will accept patients in the ER over a three-day period.