David O’Quin, a 39-year-old artist with schizophrenia, stopped taking his psychiatric medication. He was placed in jail for his own protection because mental health services had been cut or reduced in Baton Rouge. To control him, jailers put him in restraints for days, inducing a blood clot that killed him in 2013. Four more people with mental illness died in jail the year after.
David’s father, Bill O’Quin became an advocate for reform, using his resources and connecting with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation to start an initiative that would lead to creation of The Bridge Center for Hope.
The Mental Health Emergency Room Extension (MHERE) at the former Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge closes.
The Foundation researches best practices around the country in partnership with numerous community partners including the Mayor’s office, the District Attorney, the Public Defender, the judicial system, the Sheriff, Capital Area Human Services District, service providers, and mental health advocates. Baton Rouge stakeholders visit San Antonio to learn about the Restoration Center, a diversion center that functions as an option for those in crisis.
Stakeholders seek to generate community engagement and share information beyond their group through a series of community guest speakers. The first speaker is Leon Evans, president and CEO of the Center for Health Care Services, the entity that operates the Restoration Center for Bexar County and San Antonio.
Pete Earley, author of “Crazy: A Father’s Search Through Mental Health Madness,” speaks in Baton Rouge to 200 attendees about his search for mental health services for his son.
A clinical design committee outlines proposed programs for a treatment center. These programs include a mobile assessment team, sobering center, detox services, acute psychiatric care and behavioral health respite, and ongoing case management.
The Foundation publishes the Potential Economic and Fiscal Impacts of a Jail Diversion Program and Restoration Center for Mental Health and Related Disorders in Baton Rouge by the Perryman Group. The report estimates the Bridge Center would generate the following direct cost savings for the Baton Rouge community: • $3 million in the initial year of operation of the program • $8.1 million per year once the program reaches a mature state • $24.6 million in total over the first five years • $54.9 million in total over the first 10 years.
The Foundation publishes a report by Health Management Associates converting the clinical design committee’s work into a formal business plan for the Bridge Center for Hope.
The City-Parish publishes the East Baton Rouge Parish Justice Center Study which outlines several recommendations for reducing the jail population in the parish, including the creation of the Bridge Center for Hope.
The Bridge Center formed with an independent board that includes the district attorney, East Baton Rouge Sheriff, East Baton Rouge Coroner, community mental health advocates, service providers and doctors.
A 1.5-mill property tax to fund the Bridge Center and pay for a new 30-bed facility with an estimated $5 million annually narrowly loses at the polls.
The Bridge Center secures a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to start a pilot pre-trial release program. Later in the year, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome commits $260,000 annually to sustain the project.
The Bridge Center hires Emergent Method to analyze future options for the Bridge Center, including consolidating efforts with other community organizations and new and different funding streams.
Emergent Method presents their findings, which include the clear need for a public infusion of funds to sustain all proposed Bridge Center programs.
By a landslide, nearly 7 of every 10 voters approve the Vote Yes for Mental Health tax, with proceeds available to the Bridge Center for Hope in 2020.
The Bridge Center forms committees to work through all the processes necessary to establish the structure for crisis stabilization services.
Metro council approved a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) between the City-Parish and the Bridge Center for Hope. This CEA will allow the Bridge Center access to the tax funding approved by the voters in December of 2018.
The Bridge Center board selected a global mental health leader - RI International - to provide crisis care to fill the gap in services. RII will serve up to 5,000 people each year.
The Bridge Center board hired Charlotte Claiborne as the first executive director to work with RI and other partners to ensure implementation of services by mid-2020.
The Bridge Center for Hope chose 3455 Florida Street in Mid-City as the site location to house the Crisis Receiving Center.
Arkel Constructors selected to build the crisis receiving center. RI International, the organization that will operate the center, recommended Arkel as the contractor from two bids received for the project. Arkel offered the lowest bid and quickest construction time for the center. The $3.8 million, 25,000 sq. ft. center will be completed by late fall and is expected to open this year.
Arkel began building the crisis receiving center.
The Bridge Center for Hope ribbon-cutting ceremony showcasing the new facility to the public prior to opening for services.
The Bridge Center for Hope officially opens its doors to the public to provide mental health and substance use services for East Baton Rouge Parish residents.