Safe Haven by Amy Bouton
WHAT SHAPES A COMMUNITY’S IDENTITY? Its culture? Its people? Its history? The health and well-being of the people who make up a community are crucial components of its ability to thrive and prosper. In our community, there is a real, pervasive need for help for people in times of crisis from acute or chronic behavioral health issues. St. Tammany Parish recognized this. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that statistically, mental illness affects one in five adults in the United States at some point in their lives. Of those who have a mental health condition, 40 percent will live day-to-day without treatment. These statistics, applied to the people in her own community, were the catalyst for action by Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. She says, “In 2012, we made a choice to fight to retain our behavioral health services here in St. Tammany. “Too many people depend on this care for their day-today well-being and for help when a critical situation arises. So we took action to keep Southeast Hospital up and running through a CEA with the state, and we formed the St. Tammany Parish Behavioral Health Task Force because we always knew we would need to do much more long term. From there, we collaborated with the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the National Council on Behavioral Health to brainstorm on how we could make it happen.” The vision for Safe Haven, a comprehensive, collaborative healing environment for the behavioral health continuum, began to materialize.
In 2015, land was acquired on the Southeast Hospital campus, and by early 2016, experts were retained to undertake the master facility planning and economic impact and implementation strategy of the proposed behavioral health redesign recommended by the BHTF. The pioneering endeavor—Safe Haven—is a vision to create a high-quality, coordinated, sustainable and humane network of behavioral healthcare anchored in St. Tammany Parish. The facility will address unmet needs to create a seamless thread in the continuum of care and serve as a comprehensive multi-faceted program and a “single point of entry” into the behavioral health continuum for law enforcement, the judiciary and local area hospitals. Safe Haven represents the efforts of Parish Government and various other stakeholders, including: the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, the 22nd Judicial Court, the St. Tammany Parish Public School System, Florida Parishes Human Services Authority, District Attorney’s Office; 22nd JDC, NAMI St. Tammany, Slidell Memorial Hospital and St. Tammany Parish Hospital, as well as nonprofit organizations and others, to provide a collaboration of on-site and network-based partners to create a healing environment. Anticipated outcomes from this approach include: the creation of a healing environment for vulnerable individuals at all stages of mental illness; earlier access to care, thereby reducing the cost of
photo courtesy: SAFE HAVEN
A Vision for Healing