Oct 31, 2012 11:11 AM by AP
PINEVILLE, La. (AP) - State health officials have completed the transfer of psychiatric patients from a south Louisiana facility to Central Louisiana State Hospital in Pineville.
The process began in early October with the transfer of 23 female patients from Southeast Louisiana Hospital, located in Mandeville.
The Town Talk reports the transition was completed Tuesday with the transfer of 22 men to Central.
The moves have increased the number of patients at Central, and doubled from 60 to 120 the number of "intermediate beds," a classification that accommodates patients whose stays at facilities run for a month or more.
"We have openings for intermediate care beds, which we usually fill up fairly quickly," said Kathy Kliebert, DHH deputy secretary.
Kliebert said the Southeast patients were counseled before the transfers. She also said their families have access to Louisiana-provided transportation to visit loved ones in Pineville.
Kliebert said six direct-care Southeast employees took jobs offered at Central, which has ramped up hiring to care for the additional patients.
Meghan Speakes, a spokeswoman for DHH, said hiring due to Central's expansion will be completed by Nov. 5. She said that by then there would be 47 new employees.
DHH is closing the Mandeville facility and increasing bed capacity at Central and at Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System in Jackson.
Doubling the patient count at Central wasn't always in the plans. Earlier plans had DHH vacating Central's 107-year-old facilities and building a new, much smaller psychiatric hospital on property adjacent to Pinecrest Supports and Services Center, which also is in Pineville but a few miles to the east of Central.
That changed with the decision to shut down Southeast in Mandeville, an about-face by the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal, which had planned to keep Southeast open.