Moving Forward For Mental Health

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, January 26, 2012

Region 8 is closing in on completion of itsnew mental health services facility in Brookhaven and expects thatits staff may double over the next year.

    “We’re looking probably at a mid-March opening of the facility,”said Dave Van, Region 8 executive director.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

    The project contractor has nearly completed exterior work on thenew buildings, leaving only the interiors to be finished, Van said.He anticipates an open house in April after completion of theestimated $5 million facility.

    Region 8 currently employs about 30-35 people in Brookhaven, Vansaid, and he only sees that number going up.

    “Over the next 12 months or so we’ll probably add another 30,” hesaid. “I’m saying 60-65 within a 24-month period would beconservative. Our funding levels will determine what happens afterthat.”

    The mental health center also continues to see patient growth,adding 100-150 new patients every month, according to Van. Region 8currently leasing space in a building owned by King’s DaughtersMedical Center on Highway 51.

     Van said the growth isexciting but somewhat unexpected.

    “It’s new so that explains some of it, but you usually don’t seethat much increase of patients,” Van said. “The only county that isadding more patients than Lincoln is Rankin.”

    Mental health professionals estimate 25 percent of a givenpopulation will utilize mental health services, Van said. He’s notsure how quickly Region 8’s growth will take to reach that numberbecause many factors are involved, including the amount ofresources Region 8 has available and its visibility in thecommunity.

    At full capacity, Van said Region 8 should serve 6,000 to 8,000patients. Right now the facility serves approximately 3,000patients.

    Region 8’s new facility will be located on Highway 51 across fromKDMC. The hospital has begun planning to fill the space currentlyused by Region 8.

    “We have to be out in March,” Van said. “They (KDMC) have otherplans and need it by then.”

    KDMC representative David Culpepper said the hospital plans to putanother physician in the building.

    “As soon as Region 8’s lease is up or they are out of there, itwill be leased for another physician,” Culpepper said.

    Culpepper said KDMC has held more specific conversations but is notready to publicly discuss who might take up practice in the office.Culpepper also said he could not offer a timeline as to when adoctor might begin seeing patients at the site, but he hopes itwill be soon.

    “We will move as swiftly as possibly,” Culpepper said.

    Van praised the work of the community to aid Region 8 as it movesto a new facility.

    “It takes a group effort for us to transition with the least amountof difficulty possible,” Van said. “Every community partner inLincoln County has worked well with us. We’ve had a warmreception.”

    That warm reception has been to the county’s benefit, Van said.

    “Lincoln County is now a county where the mentally ill are not heldin jail,” Van said. “Half the counties in Mississippi can’t saythat.”