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Officials laud positive impact of new mental health crisis center

More than one month after its grand opening on Dec. 4, theBrookhaven Crisis Intervention Center has allowed area mentalhealth patients to receive quick, extensive and, most importantly,local treatment.

In the 43 days since the center opened, 24 patients have beenadmitted and treated, and Lincoln County officials are grateful forits presence here.

“We’re just glad not only that we’re able to place some peoplethere quicker, but we can place them within a few miles of ouroffice,” said Lincoln County Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop, whoseoffice is responsible for processing mental health patients. “We’rehaving quite a bit of success with placement.”

Bishop said the crisis center has lessened the time that mentalhealth patients spend awaiting an available bed at a mental healthfacility.

“Right now, the turnaround time for a mental health patient oncethey are committed is fairly short,” he said. “It’s not uncommonnow for someone to be committed one day and have a bed ready forthem at the crisis center the next.

“It all depends on how many beds are available around the state,but now the waiting time has been cut fairly short.”

Bishop said his office still communicates with Mississippi StateHospital in Whitfield to determine where mental health patientswill be placed. In the past, Lincoln County patients were sometimessent to different centers around the state.

Since Brookhaven’s crisis center opened, though, the chanceryclerk has been able to place all the mental health patients thusfar dealt with locally.

“The state hospital has been really good about allowing patientsfrom Lincoln County to go to the crisis center,” Bishop said. “Sofar, we’ve been able to get them out of jail and into the crisiscenter as soon as the doctors examine them and the judge determinesthat treatment is necessary.”

For mental health patients and their families, the decrease injail time is perhaps the greatest value of the Brookhaven CrisisIntervention Center. While some mental health patients, those thatmay pose a danger to themselves or the general public, still haveto be picked up by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department andhoused in the jail while awaiting commitment, Sheriff Steve Rushingsaid the locality of the crisis center has cut jail time down.

“Before we got the crisis center, there was a few days’ wait,”he said. “In the last few instances where we’ve had to house amental health patient, as soon as we’ve gotten them sentenced andcommitted we’ve been able to take them over there that day.”

Rushing said the only down time remaining in the committmentprocess is the wait for doctor visits and committment hearings.Once those parts of the process are over, the sheriff said hisdepartment has been “getting ’em on through.”

“So far, it’s worked out pretty good,” Rushing added. “We justtake the patients right over there. We don’t have to transport themvery far anymore.”

Tish Dettor, Crisis Intervention Services director forMississippi State Hospital, oversees all seven of the statehospital’s crisis centers. She pointed to Rushing’s new ability totake mental patients “right over there” as a strong point in thestate’s mental health system.

“Receiving services closer to home allows easier access to thefamily support system,” she said. “Allowing family members to beinvolved in the treatment process increases a patient’s chances ofsuccess after discharge.”

Dettor said the Brookhaven Crisis Intervention Center has alsobenefited the mental health system statewide.

“The center has helped to decrease the waiting list atMississippi State Hospital,” she said. “That strengthens the mentalhealth system in our state.”