Nacogdoches mental-health facility gains national attention

BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) - By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - When there's a medical emergency people go to the emergency room. A good place for broken legs. Not so good for a mental crisis.

The Burke Center Psychiatric Emergency Service Center will soon open in Lufkin. Burke Center's David Cozadd says unstable mentally ill persons will be brought there instead of to a hospital emergency room or even worse, a jail cell.

"They can be cared for involuntarily for up to 48 hours and hopefully within that period of time the subjects will become stabilized," Cozadd said.

The pilot program has been operating out of Nacogdoches.

"It is basically a mental health triage for people that are in need of some immediate care," said Kerss.

Kerss says the emergency psychiatric care is taking pressure off jail cells and eliminating unnecessary long drives to overcrowded state mental health facilities.

"Eighty-five percent of the people that are coming into this program -- they're being able to treat and to regulate and return to the community," Kerss said.

The efforts are receiving international attention.

"Where they'll be sharing the pilot program with mental health providers and law enforcement from around the world," said Cozadd.

They'll learn how supervision and atmosphere promotes healing.

"In a nice, comfortable place it makes it that much easier for people to begin to submit to the help they need," said Cozadd.

And that's the solution cities around the world are seeking in an effort to provide better psychiatric emergency care.

The ribbon-cutting for the Burke Center Psychiatric Emergency Service Center is in July.  The move from Nacogdoches will occur shortly afterward.

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