Louisiana residents speak against revised plans for psychiatric facility

CLINTON, La. (BRPROUD) — After months of debate trying to find a location for a psychiatric facility, Louisiana set the record straight on the revised plan. Two facilities are being considered for different uses in East Feliciana Parish.

On Wednesday, the East Feliciana Parish Police Jury held a meeting at the East Feliciana Steam Academy on Plank Road in Clinton to discuss the proposed location of the psychiatric hospital.

Residents were angry, several saying these types of facilities are being “shoved down their throats.”

State officials including Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne and the Louisiana Department of Health spoke about the proposals.

Harmony Behavioral Health purchased the Old Grace Nursing Home for $1.6 million. The company owned by Collis Temple Jr. wanted to put a similar facility in the North Baton Rouge area.

Residents in North Baton Rouge fought against the plan and residents of East Feliciana Parish did the same on Wednesday night.

Old Grace Nursing Home, purchased by Harmony Behavioral Health

Back in January, LDH released documents about how the facility would be operated in the North Baton Rouge area.

According to LDH, documents explained that the 118-bed facility would house those who have “persistent mental illnesses who require increased supervision.” If built as planned, it would be down Grace Lane in the Clinton area next to residential areas and businesses.

Jimmy Sanders said he has lived on Grace Lane in the parish for his entire life. He is completely against the idea and said he believes the company should build a new facility in a rural area instead of repurposing one in a residential area.

“A place like that behind my house,” said Sanders “I’d be kind of scared of walking out my door.”

The Breddens have been married for more than 50 years and live a mile from the facility.

The couple mentioned how they are worried for their great-grandchildren’s safety.

“We’re very concerned that our property value is going to go down,” said the Breddens. “We’re 100% against it as a community, and we’re bound together.” 

During the meeting, Dardenne said psychiatric patients won’t go to the Old Grace Nursing Home.

“The nursing home facility will operate exclusively as a nursing home,” he said. “It will not have psych patients.”

The panel said Villa Feliciana Medical Complex will be the forensic mental facility, watched over by LDH.

One resident pointed to poor online reviews that the Villa Feliciana Medical Complex has received, including numerous fines.

Members of the panel said the Old Grace Nursing Home is under contract for a year with LDH to house those only with disabilities, not those who are not competent to stand trial.

Residents said they think after that year is up, the two facilities will hold more than 200 dangerously ill patients.

Harmony Behavioral Health has a lawsuit against the East Feliciana Parish Police Jury and building official, Jeff Williams, accusing the parish of improperly denying a construction permit. 

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