(State Representative Neil Abramson [D – New Orleans]) – In an address to the New Orleans City Council today, State Representative Neil Abramson (D – New Orleans) announced a long term lease agreement between Children’s Hospital and the State of Louisiana allowing Children’s to re-open the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital (NOAH) and provide mental health care for children and adolescents. Even though Abramson and his colleagues in the legislature funded NOAH, the Jindal administration closed NOAH in 2009 citing economic reasons and sent more than thirty patients to facilities as far away as the Northshore’s Southeast Louisiana Hospital. Last month, the Jindal administration agreed to allow a private company to operate the Northshore hospital and offer psychiatric care to patients. Abramson was an outspoken critic of sending our New Orleans children and adolescents far from home for mental health care. He advocated strongly for a partnership between NOAH and Children’s Hospital to find a solution to the challenge of protecting our youth and providing mental health services for children and adolescents.
Abramson told the council, “I have been through four years of detailed and tough negotiations to find a solution to the closing of NOAH. Louisiana and Children’s Hospital, with my legislative assistance and that of my colleagues, came together and reached an agreement. As part of that signed Agreement, Children’s Hospital is to re-open NOAH and provide out-patient services and in-patient care for our children and adolescents who are suffering from some form of mental health illness. I am very proud of the work done by the great doctors, administrators and staff at Children’s Hospital. It is an honor to represent the facility in my district. Like many, I treasure the expertise of the medical team at Children’s. I am here today to publicly thank Children’s Hospital for recognizing the need for mental health services for our youth and for caring enough to be a part of healing that will make our city stronger. I can’t imagine a better partner for our State than Children’s to address such a meaningful and monumental issue.” Pat Roy, former President of Friends of NOAH and a mental health community participant said, “It is so uplifting to have Representative Abramson as an advocate for providing mental health care for our youth. It is critical to our community to supply mental health services to our children”
The details of the negotiation and timeline for re-opening the NOAH facility were not released at the council meeting, but will be soon. Cecile Tebo, former head of the New Orleans Police Department’s Mobile Crisis Unit and a mental health expert said, “It is essential to diagnose and treat mental health issues at an early age. Representative Abramson has brought this issue to the forefront and it is great to have him as a progressive leader for this important issue.” Over 5 million American children now suffer some form of mental illness. Abramson represents District 98 in Uptown New Orleans.