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Crisis center will serve 10 counties

Government officials from the city and county up to the statelevel gathered Tuesday morning to witness the grand opening of theBrookhaven Crisis Intervention Center, a mental health facilitythat operates under the guidance of the Mississippi State Hospitalin Whitfield.

A handful of the top officials with the state’s mental healthservices gathered behind the podium at 10 a.m. to begin theceremony. Mississippi State Hospital Director James Chastainwelcomed the crowd.

Ed LeGrand III, executive director of the Mississippi Departmentof Mental Health, named a long list of county, city and stateofficials who had made the opening of the crisis centerpossible.

After all were recognized, Dr. Patricia Ainsworth, chairwoman ofthe Mississippi State Board of Mental Health, spoke about thecrisis intervention center’s future.

“My hope is that, in 50 years, this center won’t be needed,” shesaid. “We’re constantly working to find better methods of treatmentfor the mentally ill, and hopefully, in the future we’ll be able tocure these disabilities. I hope that one day this center willbecome obsolete.”

After Ainsworth had spoken, Chastain placed the official blueribbon in front of the crisis center doors and the dignitariesgathered behind it. District 39 State Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith andDistrict 92 Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett each held the scissors and theribbon was cut.

As the ribbon fell, the Brookhaven Crisis Center was officiallyopen, but two patients had already arrived for treatment the daybefore – a testament to the necessity of the center.

Mississippi State Hospital Public Relations Director DavidMiller said mental illnesses are more common than one would think,adding that one in four Mississippians suffers from some form ofdepression, the most common form of mental illness.

“We tend to put people with mental illnesses into a differentcategory, because it affects the brain, but it’s really common inAmerica,” Miller said. “They can live normal, productive lives withtheir families and at their jobs.”

Miller said the Brookhaven Crisis Intervention Center would be avaluable part of the area’s medical services.

“Having a mental illness is not a death sentence,” he said.”These patients need treatment, too – and they can be treated. It’sjust like any other type of health care: it’s more effective tohave those services closer to home.”

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony ended, officials took thecrowd on a series of tours throughout the 14,557 square-footfacility.

The crisis center has the capacity to simultaneously treat 16patients, employing a staff of 50 full-time and contract staff. Thecrisis center will have physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists,nurse practitioners and nurses as well as security, housekeepingand maintenance personnel on hand to provide services to thepatients.

The facility has all the requirements to provide patients with acomfortable living space for up to 30 days, including day rooms,bathrooms and showers, laundry services and a large cafeteria.

Officials said the installation of the cafeteria was requiredfor certification, but it will serve only in a backup role. All thefood served in the crisis center will be catered.

The Brookhaven center is the last of seven facilities, whichwere authorized by the state Legislature, to be completed. Similarfacilities are located in Corinth, Batesville, Laurel, Newton, andGrenada and Cleveland.

In addition to Lincoln County, the Brookhaven facility willserve patients from Adams, Amite, Claiborne, Franklin, Jefferson,Lawrence, Pike, Walthall and Wilkinson counties.