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New Orleans mayor seeks help from state to handle mental health care needs

New Orleans mayor seeks help from state to handle mental health care needs – May 14, 2007 — NEW ORLEANS – The mayor of New Orleans on Monday asked the governor of Louisiana for help addressing a growing psychiatric health crisis in a city still struggling with the consequences of Hurricane Katrina.

Mayor Ray Nagin said in a letter to Gov. Kathleen Blanco that a shortage of hospital beds for emergency room and mental health patients is causing some people in need of psychiatric care to be housed in jails, and is forcing paramedics and police to stay with patients until beds are freed – in some cases for hours.

“The stress of survival and life in a damaged region has increased the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder and aggravated existing mental and physical health problems,” Nagin wrote.

Nagin’s request did not include a total dollar figure. But he said the metropolitan region urgently needs more beds, including 100 beds for long-term mental health needs, and recommends that the state set up an “adequate” facility in the city, with trained personnel, and pay for medics, stretchers and overtime for police officers to aid in the transfer of patients. He said a state budget surplus could help cover the cost.

A Blanco spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: APA Online

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