Health center still dealing with aftermath of Gustav
|Shonna Riggs/Herald Guide|
The St. Charles Community Health Center is seeking donations after one of its buildings was damaged during Gustav.
Chunks of the building fell off during the high winds of the storm and that’s where psychiatric and podiatry services, along with the center’s administrative offices, are located.
“Our administrative offices are located on the second floor of the building,” James Comeaux, chief operating officer of the facility, said. “We treat podiatry and behavioral center patients on the first floor, but because of the damage caused by Hurricane Gustav, we are temporarily offering those services across the street in the other Community Health Center building, which is where we usually treat our regular needs patients.”
Due to the amount of time the clinic was closed for Hurricane Gustav, and considerable damage of the facility caused by the storm, Comeaux is asking for monetary donations to help the clinic’s budget recover some of its losses.
“We still paid our employees even though we were closed for a week,” Comeaux said. “We need to recoup our losses due to the unexpected expense that we incurred because of the hurricane.”
Comeaux says that patients need the behavioral services in these stressful times.
“A lot of residents are just getting their lives back on track since Hurricane Katrina,” he said. “Then right before the anniversary of that storm, residents were told they had to evacuate. That was definitely a high stress time for some people.”
Patients that need the behavioral health and podiatry services provided through the clinic are now meeting at the St. Charles Community Health Center’s other branch at 843 Milling Avenue.
“All the people who worked in the main building that was damaged are using every available space across the street,” he said. “We treat about 300 podiatry patients and 400 behavior health patients.”
Comeaux is seeking the support of the United Way of St. Charles to get donations from parish industry to help him recover some of the loss.
“Being closed one week is a great setback for us,” he said. “During that week we were not treating patients, but we continued to pay our staff the entire time because we know and understand how expensive it is to evacuate.”
Other services housed in the damaged facility include social work, case management and marketing.
“We also do our Harvester Food Drive one a month at that location,” Comeaux said. “Despite damage to the facility, we will still hold our food drive this month.”
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