River Place Behavioral Health opens to meet critical need for inpatient mental health services

Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

Ochsner Health System and Acadia Healthcare (Acadia) joined St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom to announce the opening of River Place Behavioral Health, an 82-bed inpatient behavioral health facility in LaPlace. Through a joint venture, Ochsner partnered with Acadia, a national leader in behavioral healthcare services, to repurpose the existing River Parishes Hospital building to provide critically needed mental healthcare services to residents across the state and region.

Louisiana currently ranks 39th in national rankings regarding access to care for those in need of mental health treatment, and recent population estimates demonstrate a need for more than 400 behavioral health beds in the greater New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas.

“The opening of River Place Behavioral Health is a significant step forward as we work to address the vital need for behavioral health services throughout Louisiana and our entire region,” said Warner Thomas, President & Chief Executive Officer, Ochsner Health System. “River Place illustrates the value of partnership, bringing together Acadia, a national expert in behavioral health, and Ochsner, a national leader in physician group practice, to deliver much needed inpatient behavioral health services to adults and adolescents.”

Through this partnership, Ochsner made a substantial contribution in providing the facility, and Acadia invested nearly $18 million dollars in the facility build-out, equipment and working capital. Over the next several months, River Place Behavioral Health will gradually grow to full capacity, with a total of four units and 82 inpatient beds.

“Through our collaboration with Ochsner, patients at River Place benefit from the expertise of Ochsner psychiatrists and providers,” said Rick Bennett, CEO, River Place Behavioral Health. “Together, we are delivering comprehensive and compassionate care in one of the most innovative behavioral health facilities in the country today, designed for the safety and comfort of both patients and staff.”

The facility has an adult acute care unit for patients 18 years and older who are struggling with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other behavioral health issues. A dual diagnosis unit will treat patients with substance use disorders and other co-occurring mental health issues.

To meet the behavioral health needs of patients at different stages in life, a geriatric psychiatric unit will offer personalized treatment for patients who are 65 years or older and a specialized unit for adolescents will treat patients ages 12-17 years old.

The reconstructed space was built with safety in mind and has innovative safety features that are not found in many behavioral health facilities today. Large patient rooms and nursing stations are designed to provide safety and comfort for both patients and caregivers. Each of the four units has an outdoor area tailored to meet the needs of each patient population. The adolescent unit has a basketball court while the geriatric unit has wider sidewalks and seating areas to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.

“As we continue to add more resources, we are able to greatly expand upon the behavioral health services we currently offer,” said Dr. Dean Hickman, Psychiatry Chair for Ochsner Health System and Medical Director for River Place Behavioral Health. “By using Epic, Ochsner’s electronic medical record, River Place Behavioral Health will alleviate the fragmented care patients with mental health disorders typically receive.

The new facility will grow to an average daily census of approximately 74 patients and more than 2,800 annual admissions. When the facility is open at full capacity, River Place Behavioral Health will create approximately 150 new jobs in St. John the Baptist Parish, including recreation therapists, registered nurses, social services staff and mental health technicians.

“We have a real need to find open beds for patients who are facing struggles with mental health,” said Eric McMillen, CEO, Ochsner Medical Center – Baton Rouge. “This new facility is less than one hour from Baton Rouge and helps fill a large void in our region.”

For more information on River Place Behavioral Health, including the admissions process, please visit or call 985-303-2327.

Contributed by Ochsner Health System