Mind & Body
Archer Institute
5/3/2018 10:33:47 PM
Archer Institute

Lake Charles Memorial Health System held a ribbon cutting last month for its new $19 million behavioral health hospital in South Lake Charles. 

Robert Prehn, Vice President, Memorial Specialty Hospital, says many people in the general community aren’t aware how serious the problem of mental illness and behavioral health in America is today. The National Association for Mental Illness estimates that one in four Americans will suffer a debilitating mental illness at some point in their lives. In this country, every 16.2 seconds, somebody commits suicide. In Louisiana, the increase of opioid-related deaths last year went up 84% over the prior year. There are more active opioid prescriptions in Louisiana than there are residents in Louisiana. Yet, we now have half a million fewer inpatient psychiatric beds than we did in 1955. In Louisiana, we currently have only 7% of the psychiatric beds we had in 1955. "It was this need in the community that drove our decision to build this facility to serve the community,” said Prehn.

In a time when health systems around the country are shuttering their behavioral health programs, Memorial is investing in this much needed service. A team of architects and medical staff took a year designing the new hospital by looking at some of the best facilities in the nation. Every detail of the design has a function and a purpose to provide the best care to patients.

 Psychiatrist Dr. Dale Archer, Jr, made a major donation towards the new hospital through the Foundation at Lake Charles Memorial. The facility’s official name is the Archer Institute at Lake Charles Memorial Health System to honor Dr. Archer’s legacy as a leader and mental health advocate in Southwest Louisiana.

 The first phase is set to accept patients by June. It consists of two units: a 28-bed adult unit and a 14-bed adolescent unit. The current adult unit on the 10th floor of Memorial’s main campus has been converted to a 30-bed medical psychiatric unit for patients who also require medical care.

 Two other phases will be added in the future: two additional 28 bed units and a medical office building for outpatient programs. When all phases are completed, a total of 65,000 square feet and 102 beds will be available to treat the behavioral health needs of Southwest Louisiana.

 Patients will no longer need to go to the emergency room to access behavioral health services. They will be able to go directly to the new hospital and receive a free assessment and recommendation on the type of treatment they may need, whether that is outpatient care, day program, or inpatient hospitalization.

The last time a freestanding mental health hospital was built in Louisiana was in 1970. Dr. Archer said it’s a huge plus for the state of Louisiana and for the City of Lake Charles. "It speaks to the fact that Lake Charles is leading the charge which I think will trickle down to the rest of the country. We are the first in Louisiana, and by golly, we’re going to the best.”

The Archer Institute is located at 6713 Nelson Road.
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