Nearly two years after the failure of the federal levees (don’t call it Katrina), New Orleans faces a mental health crisis of unprecedented proportions.

Here’s what the city lost and has not yet been able to replace:

1. LSU and Tulane hospitals lost their inpatient psychiatric units. LSU lost more than 100 beds. Tulane lost 110.
2. Tulane’s emergency room has only one psychiatrist on duty.
3. Severe shortage of trained psychiatric nurses and security personnel.

Marc Siegel, an associate professory of medicine at NYU’s School of Medicine describes the situation this way: “…the problems are too pervasive and too dangerous to allow for gradual solutions… Government leaders must treat the mental heal crisis like a fire engulfing the city. A fire hose her and a garden hose there will help, but many lives will be left in the ashes unless drastic action is taken.”

What’s needed?

Temporary facilities, more grant money for hiring mental health care providers to the area, loosening of laws to make it easier to built new facilities. Siegel, in a June 7th article in USA Today, recommends that the American Psychiatric Association uge residency programs to send in rotating doctors to help fill the gap.

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