Mandeville mental hospital to stay open with private owner

The last remaining public mental health hospital in the metro area will not be going away, after all.

State officials have just signed an agreement to keep Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville open, but with a new private operator.

Meridian Behavioral Health Services will be taking over. Southeast will be much smaller than it was in its heyday.

The hospital once held more than 300 beds. With Meridian there will only be 58 beds, but health officials say 58 is better than none.

CaptureSoutheast was set to close at the end of this month, a victim of state budget cuts.

Many of its patients had already been moved to hospitals in Jackson, Louisiana, a two hour drive away, or Pineville, which is three and a half hours away, creating hardships for patients’ families wanting to visit.

Secretary of Health and Hospitals Bruce Greenstein says this is part of a state-wide push to move health care away from state control and hand it over to local governments and private operators.

The state-run hospital was set to shut down January 1, 2013. Meridian will take over on January 2, 2013.