DENHAM SPRINGS – The Florida Parishes Health and Human Services will be expanding its office in Denham Springs into a full-time clinic, its executive director said Friday.
Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry revealed the news during his talk to the Denham Springs Kiwanis Club on Thursday.
“The Florida Parishes Health and Human Services will put an office in town,” Landry said.
Executive Director Richard Kramer said after the Great Flood of 2016 the office was open one or two days a week as an outreach of its Hammond clinic.
“This will expand their operation to five days a week as a full-fledged clinic,” Kramer said. “Our clinic, our location and our staff will be working to better meet the needs of the people of Denham Springs and Livingston Parish.”
“We’re excited. I’ve been the executive director here a little more than a year and one of the first things on my agenda was to put a full-time clinic in Livingston Parish,” Kramer said.
Florida Parishes Health and Human Services offers mental health services, substance abuse services, developmental disabilities services, prevention services and gambling addiction services.
It serves a five-parish area: Livingston, Tangipahoa, St. Helena, St. Tammany and Washington parishes and has clinics in Hammond, Mandeville, Slidell and Bogalusa.
It is governed by a board of directors of nine members, representing the five-parish area. Representing Livingston Parish are board Chairman Carol Stafford and board member Ligia Soileau.
The Florida Parishes Health and Human Services office has been operating at its same location before the flood -- 1920 Florida Ave. SW – but is looking at another larger location in the same block, Kramer said.
It will be about two months before the full clinic is ready, Kramer said.
“If I had my choice, less than two months,” he added, but the preparation has already begun.
“We will be stepping up our services now, adding staff and ramping up so by the grand opening, we will have added more services,” Kramer said.
More medical and mental health services was a major recommendation from the public at Denham Strong’s community meetings to determine what the public felt was needed to help the city in its post-flood recovery.
In his position as mayor, Landry has spoken out many times that the post-flood mental health needs of Denham Springs residents were large.
In his Kiwanis Club talk, Landry held up a published article that talked about what was called “post traumatic flood syndrome.’
“Katrina syndrome, they call it,” Landry said.
The toll of psychological injuries suffered by disaster victims grow over years until it swamps the health-care system long after the disaster has passed, he read.
Among the problems, he said, were heightened anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
“These are not just secondary problems. These are primary problems after a natural disaster,” he said.
“We’re not exempt from this. We’re not special.”