Senator asks for legal opinion on hospital closure

Aug 14, 2012

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is asking for an attorney general's opinion about whether Gov. Bobby Jindal can close a state-run mental health facility in St. Tammany Parish without legislative approval.

Sen. Jack Donahue, a Republican from Mandeville, says closing Southeast Louisiana Hospital in a parish that has one of the state's highest suicide rates is unwise. He's pushing to keep the facility open.

The Jindal administration decided to close the facility and shift patients to other public and private health care facilities in the area to save money, after Louisiana's federal Medicaid funding was cut. Parish officials are seeking alternative funding to keep the psychiatric hospital operating.

An opinion from Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's office would provide legal guidance, but doesn't have the force of law.