LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The damage from the hurricanes went far deeper than just downed trees and lost roofs, there was a mental impact as well, which makes the damage suffered by area mental health facilities even worse.
Oceans Psychiatric Hospital suffered extensive damage to their 60-bed facility forcing them to downsize their second facility which only served adolescents.
Hospital administrator Emily McDaniel explains that several days prior to Hurricane Laura, they evacuated 15 of their adult patients to a facility in Broussard, thinking it’d only be temporary.
“I left that morning thinking we were coming back three days later, and after the storm passed, my plant ops guy was able to pass by the building and he called me to tell me it didn’t look good.”
After the damages, McDaniel says they chose to serve only adults and geriatric patients since the need for those populations was going to be the greatest in Southwest Louisiana.
“Through the eight weeks of hurricane recovery, a lot of our phone calls were for adult and elderly patients needing our help, and we also knew that a lot of the nursing homes would be closed. We knew there was going to be a great need in helping those patients.”
McDaniel says there have been challenges they’ve had to overcome while serving adult and geriatric patients.
“When they drive down the street, they may have lost their house. They see all the devastation just down the street. And helping them understand where they are. And most of them, their nursing homes were destroyed,” McDaniel said. “Some of the challenges are right now COVID, and we are in a smaller facility. And we have had to be very vigilant about the social distancing and the hand washing and the masking.”
Now, over three months later, McDaniel says, their patients have come a long way from that uncertain time.
“The patients don’t really seem to really care that there was a hurricane in most respects, because they’re back there. They have activities, they have staff taking care of them. We have good food each day that is being prepared for us, and we have really tried to help them get through this time.”
They are working to increase their patient capacity soon.