Children's Hospital is still interested in purchasing the shuttered New Orleans Adolescent Hospital (NOAH), but meeting the condition that it be used only for psychiatric services — as mandated by a law passed last year — would be too expensive, Children's spokesman Brian Landry told the New Orleans City Council last week. Landry's appearance before the council appeared to be a rebuttal to state Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, who announced last month that Children's had signed a lease for the NOAH property. The lease required that the hospital reopen NOAH for adolescent mental health treatment.
Landry said Children's only signed the lease in order to continue talks to purchase the property. "Last year, we approached the state and said we would like to purchase the NOAH property," Landry said, adding that Sen. David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans, sponsored a bill allowing for the sale, without conditions. "When it got to the House, an [Abramson-sponsored] amendment was added that would only allow a lease" and provide that the property must be used for mental health services. That version passed.
Later that day, Abramson told Gambit, "Sen. Heitmeier was not apprised about my prior involvement with this piece of property, that I've been working on bringing mental health [services back] for the past five years. Once I apprised him, he quickly worked with me." The law, Abramson added, was passed unanimously by both the House and the Senate and signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. "This was a collective thing done by everybody," Abramson said. "We were all in agreement."
— Charles Maldonado