Bridge Center leaders say opening is imminent, facility now licensed
BATON ROUGE- Leaders for the Bridge Center for Hope said they secured the licenses to operate and could begin accepting patients soon.
Last month, a ribbon-cutting was held outside the facility showing off everything it had to offer. But, as quickly as it was debuted, it has not accepted any patients because officials were waiting on licenses.
"There were some follow-up questions that we had to provide to DHH," Executive Director Charlotte Claiborne said. "Once we provided the clarification to DHH, a license was received."
Tuesday, the parking lot was nearly full at the facility, but no patients were inside. Instead, staffers were training as they continue tying up loose ends before patients can come in.
The facility will alleviate the burden on area hospitals and jails. Taxpayers approved a property tax in 2018 to fund the mental health facility.
"The facility itself will provide a bridge, hence the play on our name for the community," Claiborne said. "It's an alternative to the jails and emergency rooms."
The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner reports their office has committed at least 126 people since the ribbon-cutting. Had it been open, the Bridge Center would have been a good option for them to bring the patients.
Claiborne recognizes the need and says her staff is working as quickly as possible to get the building ready.
"I'm just optimistic that the Bridge Center for Hope will open very soon for the residents of East Baton Rouge Parish to provide a much needed service for the community," Claiborne said.
Once opened, the facility will have 48 beds for patients. Those facing substance abuse can stay for up to 28 days. Those facing mental health issues can stay three to seven days.
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