Bridge Center for Hope on schedule to open late fall 2020
BATON ROUGE – A mental health facility is just months away from opening. Construction at the Bridge Center for Hope off of Florida Blvd. is staying on course and is expected to be complete towards the end of fall.
“We are about 50 to 60 percent complete in the construction phase,” said Charlotte Claiborne, the executive director. “A lot of the work is being done on the interior, and we will be working on the exterior it will receive a face lift as well.”
Voters approved of a property tax to fund the mental health facility two years ago. Since then, more than $6 million have been collected. Claiborne says nearly $4 million will go toward the renovations. The building is 26,000 sq. ft. Inside, Claiborne says, there will be four suites to run six different programs.
"We'll have a crises receiving center/observation unit that's open for 23 hours, we'll have a short term psychiatric stay where we'll have 16 beds and that average length of stay is 3 to 5 days,” said Claiborne. “We will also have a medical detox facility with an average length of stay of 28 days, and lastly a respite. The respite average length of stay is 10 to 14 days.”
This year, with the pandemic, the need for these services is evident. According to the Coroner's Office, last year there were a total of 126 deadly overdoses. One is still pending confirmation via a toxicology report. As of July 2020, that number is already at 132 with 21 of those pending a toxicology report.
"There are a lot of individuals that are suffering,” said Claiborne. “Even with covid we're seeing an increase in people experiencing a mental episode that have never had one before... depression, anxiety, PTSD. This was happening before covid too but we recognize that a lot of people need help."
That help coming sooner than later, once the construction work wraps up.
Right now there are three job openings available at the Bridge Center. In total, Claiborne is looking to hire 130 people. A job fair is expected to happen in October.
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