LOCAL

Council postpones decision on healthcare agreement with Our Lady of the Lake

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The Ascension Parish Council expects to address at a later date the proposed cooperative endeavor agreement between parish government and Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, Inc.

During the Jan. 19 meeting held in Gonzales, council members agreed to place the item on the agenda for the next regular meeting, set for Feb. 2 in Donaldsonville.

The council's finance committee, which is comprised of all members of the council, previously discussed the agreement during its Jan. 9 meeting held in Gonzales.

In a file photo, members of the Ascension Parish Council are shown during a meeting held at the Donaldsonville courthouse. Shown from left are Teri Casso, Chase Melancon, Aaron Lawler, Dal Waguespack, and Michael Mason.

Dr. Janzlean Laughinghouse, who serves as executive director of the Capital Area Human Services District, warned that the new agreement could result in a duplication of services.

She said the legislatively mandated agency provides mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability services in a seven-parish region surrounding Baton Rouge.

According to its website, the district includes Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes.

"The treatment center that we have here has been here for over 25 years," Laughinghouse told council members in Gonzales. "I just wanted you all to know we are embedded in the community, and we have to be here legislatively, so we want to support all efforts and we cheer any efforts to expand mental health services because the need is so great."

Dr. Chris Trevino of the OLOL system, in speaking to the finance committee at its last meeting, said the discussion on behavioral health and the court system began about 10 years ago.

"At the end of the day, here's the deal. We are trying to figure out how to extend healthcare to those who can't get it. The truth is all of you guys, if you need healthcare, you get in your car and go. If you had to go to Texas, you'd get in your car and go," Trevino said in speaking to the committee.

If approved by the full parish council, the agreement would go into effect within a grace period of 90 days.

During the finance committee meeting, members agreed to further discussion when the matter goes before the full council.

Gonzales Weekly Citizen and Donaldsonville Chief, part of the USA Today Network of Louisiana, cover Ascension Parish and the greater Baton Rouge area. Follow at facebook.com/WeeklyCitizen and facebook.com/DonaldsonvilleChief.