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River Place Behavioral ready to serve mental health needs

LAPLACE — River Place Behavioral Health CEO Rick Bennett wants the new LaPlace facility to be seen as a valuable asset trusted to address mental health needs in a calm and healing environment.

In a society where one in four adults struggle with mental health, Bennett said nearly everyone has family members impacted by depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or other behavioral health concerns.

Yet, Louisiana lags behind other states in access to treatment, demonstrating a need for more than 400 additional behavioral health beds in the greater New Orleans area, according to Dr. Dean Hickman, psychiatry chair for Ochsner Health System and medical director for River Place Behavioral Health.

Located at 500 Rue de Sante in LaPlace, River Place Behavioral Health is an 82-bed inpatient behavioral facility established through a joint venture between Ochsner Health System and Acadia Healthcare.

St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom said River Place Behavioral Health would create approximately 150 new jobs for health care professionals in St. John while operating at full capacity.

Natalie Robottom speaks at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“It’s very important to us that social workers, pharmacists and therapists will have more opportunities to work close to home,” Robottom said.

Parish officials and Ochsner team members celebrated River Place’s opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday and guided tours of the facility.

River Place Behavioral Health is expected to average 74 patients daily and more than 2,800 annually at full capacity, according to a press release. The $18 million investment offers adolescent, adult and geriatric units as well as dual diagnosis treatment for individuals struggling with substance abuse and other health issues.

River Place Behavioral Health CEO Rick Bennett explains the critical need for mental health services in Louisiana.

Each unit has features tailored to the patient population, including a basketball court for adolescents, wheel-chair accessible sidewalks and seating areas for older patients.

Hickman said every room is optimized for safety, free of sharp edges and ligature that could be used in suicide attempts.

Large patients rooms and wide, well-lit hallways are a unique aspect of the facility, according to Bennett, who said it’s important patients do not feel trapped or enclosed.

Outdoor recreational breaks, group therapy rooms and low sensory areas are available to help patients unwind.

Dr. Dean Hickman demonstrates patient room safety features, including a breakaway bathroom door free of sharp edges and ligature.

Bennett said staff members strive to stabilize a patient’s mood for discharge within five to 12 days. Discharge planning begins upon arrival, he said, and seamless coordination of care ensures patients have access to outpatient resources.

“A big piece of what we do is making sure that a patient has a residence to go to, transportation, medication, food and everything they need before being discharged,” Bennett said.

For more information, visit riverplacebh.com or call 985-303-2327.