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Longbranch Recovery Center Opens In Abita Springs

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Longbranch Healthcare gave community leaders a sneak preview of its new inpatient addiction treatment center in Abita Springs. Longbranch Recovery Center, a $10 million facility, will begin accepting patients in December 2017 and marks the largest investment in addiction treatment made in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina. Longbranch Healthcare CEO Chris McMahon was joined by St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister, Abita Springs Mayor Greg Lemons and St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith for a program and ribbon cutting, during which each highlighted Louisiana’s critical need for quality addiction treatment.

L – R: Dan Forman, Chad Grimm, Shelly Barreca, Chris McMahon, Dan Harlin

McMahon, who is a healthcare entrepreneur and the CEO of the nationally renowned Passages Hospice, also introduced the key staff members who will be running Longbranch Recovery Center, as well as its outpatient counterpart in Metairie, Longbranch Wellness.
“We have assembled a team of some of the most respected, highly qualified individuals to run Longbranch Recovery Center. I could not be more proud of this team,” said McMahon, who achieved his own sobriety nearly 17 years ago after battling a personal opioid addiction.
Dr. Arwen Podesta, Medical Director of Longbranch Healthcare, is a board certified adult psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist. She has spent the past two decades working in the public, private and academic sectors. She is a well-known speaker, and travels to teach and lecture on addiction medicine and integrative psychiatry. Dr. Podesta has been voted one of New Orleans Magazine’s Top Doctors every year since 2012. Her priority is access to holistic addiction and dependency treatment and rational prescribing practices.
Dan Forman, Chief Marketing Officer of Longbranch Healthcare, is a known innovator in behavioral healthcare marketing and has worked with some of the largest private addiction treatment providers in the U.S. He believes marketing is a tool which helps patients overcome self-imposed barriers to seeking help. Forman says his goal is to “raise the bottom” for patients so that they do not lose everything before finding help.
Longbranch Recovery Center sits on the site of historic Longbranch Hotel in Abita Springs. The main building, which is almost an exact replica of the original hotel that burned down in 1865, features sprawling porches, 14-foot ceilings, 32 patient beds, therapists’ offices and group meeting rooms. The adjacent annex, which is original to the site, houses a gourmet restaurant and a yoga room. A Japanese meditation garden, activity center and pool are located just outside.
Longbranch Recovery Center will offer 30 to 90-day inpatient treatment programs at its main campus at 21516 Hwy. 36 in Abita Springs. Outpatient treatment will also be available at a separate facility in Old Metairie called Longbranch Wellness. Both will accept insurance.

For more information and updates about Longbranch Recovery Center, visit
About Longbranch Healthcare: Longbranch Healthcare provides inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment in Southeast Louisiana. Set to open in December 2017, Longbranch Recovery Center is an inpatient addiction treatment facility providing high-quality, compassionate care in a serene environment. Located in Abita Springs, Louisiana, Longbranch Recovery Center houses 32 patient beds for individuals suffering from all forms of addiction. Outpatient addiction treatment is also provided at a separate facility in Metairie, LA – Longbranch Wellness.

Local News Opinion

Citizen’s Group Calls For Baseline Water Test by Timothy Gates, Correspondent

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Voices of St. Tammany, a local citizen’s advocacy group, sent out a press release last week calling for baseline water testing across St. Tammany Parish before any industrial operations begin.  The focus of the request is directed at the St. Tammany Parish Government and Helis Oil and Gas Company, the company currently preparing the well site near Hwy. 1088 in Mandeville. The statement calls for independent testing of municipal wells across the parish that reflect a variation of well depth.

Most recently, St. Tammany Parish Government posted a “Cease and Desist” notice at the well site, pending an appeal process with regard to Judge Morvant’s (Baton Rouge) April decision.  Earlier this week, Morvant ruled that an appeal of this decision could continue.  Response from Helis representatives referred to the action as “illegal” and in violation of applicable state law, stating that the project is moving forward as permitted.

Many local citizens groups with a focus on the issue of hydraulic fracturing saw the action as a victory, however small.  The decision that there is no local control over development, coupled with years of state legislation that is beneficial to select corporate interests, is a situation that needs attention from representatives and senators on a realistic level, not a rhetorical one.  Increasingly obvious is the fact that changes need to take place on the state level, a sentiment echoed to this writer over a year ago, at the very beginning of the fracking debate, by an employee of the Department of Natural Resources.

“If you can change the law at the state level, we’ll be happy to uphold it.” – Patrick Courreges, DNR

swamp-bayou-louisiana-moss-cypress-natureMayor Greg Lemons of Abita Springs, a fairly well-known name among the hydraulic fracturing opposition, is a proponent of baseline water testing across the parish, before any operations begin.  He stressed the importance of establishing what is and what is not currently in the water supply to have an accurate assessment of the effects of possible future industrial operations.  Mayor Lemons suggested that the Parish take the lead on this issue with the support of locally formed citizen’s advocacy groups, of which there are several.

Describing himself as both a buinessman and a realist, Lemons offered some personal insight into his objections to hydraulic fracturing operations.  Natural gas is burned off rather than processed at many producing sites.  It is a costlier process, both production and tax- wise, so it is often wasted instead.  Watching what is produced shipped to overseas markets, while also watching the price of the natural gas provided to the citizens of Abita rise in price, Lemons commented that from a business perspective, the results of operations do not support the rhetoric of “energy independence”, and in fact, can show the opposite effect.

Mayor Lemons says that he’s “elected to serve the people of Abita Springs, no one else.”  He also realizes this is bigger than him.  “What legacy do we want to leave our children? Pollution? Radiation? Louisiana’s delicate ecosystem is being destroyed.  That’s not an environmentalist {talking}, that’s a realist.”   Thank you, Mayor Lemons.

Note:  There was no response from Helis representatives regarding baseline testing as of this writing. Timothy Gates may be reached: 985-288-9609  or