Ochsner Lafayette General and Oceans Healthcare have teamed up to build a new behavioral health hospital in Acadiana.
The 120-bed facility, Ochsner Behavioral Health Acadiana, is expected to open in late 2024.
According to a press release, plans include inpatient services for adolescents, adults and geriatric patients, as well as outpatient treatment options. The new facility will greatly increase access to services, create the largest behavioral health center in the region and fill a critical need for compassionate, comprehensive care for those experiencing mental health issues and co-occurring substance use disorders. Together, the partners will invest approximately $30 million in the expansion, the release states.
Preliminary site considerations are underway, but no firm location has been selected at this time, the release states.
“Despite the growing number of people experiencing mental illness, Louisianians – and so many across the country – still struggle to access care,” said Stuart Archer, CEO of Oceans Healthcare. “This new hospital is the next step in our partnership with Ochsner and its acute care providers to bring important mental health services that, for many, have been out of reach. We’ve proven our joint venture model works to provide best practice operations, reduce strain on emergency services and reduce overall costs. We look forward to carrying out our shared vision to provide critical services to vulnerable members of our communities.”
The release states that Ochsner Behavioral Health Acadiana was born out of great need. Each parish that comprises the Acadiana region is a designated mental health professional shortage area, meaning the region lacks the necessary number of mental health providers to care for those in need. In 2021, almost half of adults in Louisiana reported symptoms of anxiety or depression and more than 18% were unable to access necessary counseling or therapy, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The release states that access to care and expanding services is an unquestioned priority for the community. As part of Ochsner Lafayette General’s Community Health Needs Assessment, mental health is among a short list of concerns like increasing primary care and focusing on maternal and child health.
“Access to behavioral health care remains a scarcity for so many, and Louisiana is one of the most affected states. Ochsner Lafayette General remains steadfast in our commitment to increase accessibility and expand vital services,” said Patrick W. Gandy, Jr., CEO of Ochsner Lafayette General. “Oceans Healthcare is a trusted, qualified provider and by leveraging their expertise, we are better positioned to support the growing need for mental health services in our community.”
According to the release, Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center’s Level II Trauma Center is the busiest emergency department in Acadiana and often that can mean treating behavioral health patients in a setting less conducive to their needs. Partnerships like this, between acute care hospitals and specialized mental health providers, serve to increase access, and the collaboration results in decreased emergency department utilization, increased quality and safety, and reduced overall cost of care.