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Capital Regional Opens Tallahassee's Third Mental Health Center

The number of beds for mental health patients in Tallahassee is growing by about a third.  Capital Regional Medical Center’s new Behavioral Health Unit officially opens this coming Monday.

The hospital’s CEO Mark Robinson says too many mental health patients wind up in the city’s emergency rooms.

“And ERs aren’t trained to take care of these folks properly,” Robinson explained,  “so what happens is, as there’s less access in the community, ERs get – and I hate to use the term ‘bogged down’ – but ERs get busy with patients who have to stay there until proper placement is found and sometimes that’s days.”

On Wednesday (4/15/15), Robinson’s hospital gave the community an advance look at its new 24-bed, $4 million Behavioral Health Center that occupies the hospital’s seventh floor.

“People will be getting the proper treatment from the properly trained professionals and psychiatrists that they need from the onset of symptoms of the disability, as opposed to having to find someone access to a service like behavioral health, we have that now,” Robinson said.

Dr. Jay Reeves, president and CEO of the Apalachee Center, which provides mental health care exclusively, says the new facility will add to the area’s capacity for in-patient care.

“We already have two facilities like this in the community at TMHMC and Apalachee,” Reeve said.  “This will be a third.  I think it’s always good to have services for behavioral health.  One of the things we have to work out as a community, and we’re having that discussion right now with CRMC and TMH is what’s the best way to allocate all these resources so we can get the right people to the right service.”

Reeves says Capital Regional’s new facility, while certainly welcome, does make those considerations a bit more involved.

“This adds another layer of complexity to that discussion, but at the end of the day, if it provides more services for more people in need, that’s a good thing.  That’s what we’re in the business of,” Reeves said.

Definitely a better place than the nearest ER, or as has happened too often with the mentally ill in the past, the Leon County Jail.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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