Report: Many mentally ill people needlessly in nursing homes

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A federal investigation has found that Louisiana unnecessarily isolates and segregates thousands of mentally ill people in costly nursing facilities instead of providing them with community-based services.

In a 30-page letter to Gov. John Bel Edwards last week, the Justice Department says its civil rights division concluded the state violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by relying on nursing facilities to house approximately 4,000 people with serious mental illness.

The department, which opened its investigation in 2014, says many mentally ill residents confined in nursing facilities can and want to live in their own communities.

Kelly Zimmerman, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, said in an email that the agency will review the department’s recommendations and “work with stakeholders and legislators to determine the best path forward.”


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