Cecile Tebo is the first to admit that vast improvements have been made to the mental health system in New Orleans in the last year.
But a recent call by the state to shut down the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital, or NOAH, and merge its services with Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Hammond is not one of them.
"The closure of NOAH is one huge dangerous step back," she said.
Tebo is with the New Orleans Police Crisis Unit. She said they receive more than 200 mental health calls a month, and she picks up about 250 adults regularly because of their severe mental illness. NOAH is often where she takes them.
"They have to have some place they can go for stabilization," Tebo said. "If not, it can become a very dangerous situation to others and to that individual and that's what scares me the most."
"The argument that closing one facility and merging it with Hammond is going to make New Orleans less safe is something I just flat disagree with," said Alan Levine, Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary.
Levine is tasked with making cuts within DHH to meet severe state budget reductions. He tackled questions and concerns during a forum with mental health advocates Wednesday night in Jefferson Parish.
"Does he realize how much it costs for us not to treat people? The number of people who would be homeless in New Orleans, as opposed to in a hospital in New Orleans," asked Sylvia Pearson, Executive Director of The Extra Mile, Southeast Louisiana, Inc.
"Looking at cuts to community-based services on top of that puts people's lives and their families in real jeopardy," she said.
Governor Jindal and Alan Levine are being absolutely reckless with the lives of people from Orleans Parish. It's bad health policy and it's bad fiscal policy.
It is unforgivable.
We can't stand for it.
ACORN and SEIU are holding a press conference outside of NOAH (210 State) at 2pm, to chide the governor and also to pressure Senator Landrieu to support the Obama budget. Two very worthy causes if you ask me.