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Children's Hospital can buy NOAH

House bill drops psychiatric hospital requirement

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  A newly amended state House bill, advanced by the House Natural Resources Committee last week, would allow Children's Hospital to purchase the shuttered New Orleans Adolescent Hospital (NOAH) for $29 million. Children's agreed to lease the property in January but balked at the terms of the agreement, which required that it reopen NOAH as a child and adolescent psychiatric hospital. The amendment strips that requirement for the sale but requires that Children's expand mental health services on its main campus.

  The bill puts an end to a dispute between Children's — which has been trying to buy the property for a number of years — and state Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans. Abramson, who represents the district that includes NOAH. He wanted the property reopened as a children's and adolescents' psychiatric hospital, but Children's wanted to use the site for additional ambulatory outpatient clinics, a surgical center and new radiology and lab facilities, Children's marketing vice president Brian Landry said, adding, "We're very pleased with the bill."

  Landry said the sale price for NOAH will be $29 million. The new bill also provides for $10 million to $20 million in state capital outlay funding, which likely will help pay for the mental health expansion: "Children's plans to put $50 million to $60 million into the NOAH campus just in the next several years," he said.

  Children's Hospital met with Abramson and reached a compromise requiring it to provide expanded mental health treatment, likely on its main campus adjacent to NOAH, Landry said. Under the newly amended bill, Children's would not be required to reopen NOAH for children's and adolescents' mental health services, but it would require that Children's expand mental health services, opening 16 new beds for children and adolescents.

  "It is important to the entire community that these services be provided locally, and that Children's will now have the resources to add desperately needed care," Abramson said in a prepared statement. — Charles Maldonado

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